January 8, 2021
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The Federal Emergency Management Agency has a new pot of money to distribute to municipalities for the purpose of building infrastructure resilient to foul weather. The STORM Act was signed into law on Jan. 1 and provides $100 million in funding for each of the fiscal years 2022 and 2023.
Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model) (1/7) 
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Infrastructure Watch
Studies that found bedrock at greater-than-expected depths have raised the estimated cost of a planned reservoir in Santa Clara County, Calif., to $2.5 billion from the previous $1.3 billion. If built, the reservoir would hold 140,000 acre feet of water -- almost as much as is contained in the 10 existing reservoirs.
Full Story: East Bay Times (Walnut Creek, Calif.) (1/6) 
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Amarillo, Texas, is about to get its first three-tiered overpass, a novel addition to traffic patterns in West Amarillo. The arrival of 40,000-pound beams along Interstate 40 at Helium Road is one indication the $1.5 billion project is on schedule.
Full Story: KLTV-TV (Tyler, Texas) (1/7) 
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The Federal Transit Administration has awarded a $529.8 million grant to advance Valley Metro's South Central project in Phoenix to extend its light-rail system and build a downtown hub. The $1.35 billion project covers 5.5 miles and is expected to be finished by 2024.
Full Story: KTAR-AM/KTAR-FM (Phoenix) (1/7) 
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A new estimate raises the cost of extending a Seattle-area light-rail line to as much as $12.6 billion from the original estimate of $7.1 billion. The new figures for Sound Transit's plan, which would add service to Ballard and West Seattle, are traced to rising construction costs and real estate prices.
Full Story: The Seattle Times (tiered subscription model) (1/7) 
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The $350 million Interstate 25 South Gap project in Colorado reached a number of major milestones in 2020, according to the state's Department of Transportation. The express lanes are expected to open in 2022.
Full Story: The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) (tiered subscription model) (1/8) 
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Ordinary people tend to focus on the benefits they realize from infrastructure rather than on types of infrastructure, and CG/LA Infrastructure CEO Norman Anderson believes projects and funding should follow suit. That means following the UN's "people-first" model prioritizing such factors as sustainability and equity, although in the US it would ultimately be a matter of reconciling the interests of all stakeholders.
Full Story: SmartBrief/Infrastructure (1/8) 
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Trends & Technology
The goal of making nuclear fusion practical as a source of energy should be advanced with a US commitment to build a pilot plant by the 2040s, according to a report by the Fusion Energy Sciences Advisory Committee. Citing a risk that the US may fall behind in fusion development, the report says "now is the time to move aggressively," although it offers no cost estimate.
Full Story: PhysOrg (1/6) 
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Sustainable Development
Dutch cities compete in citizen-led greening effort
Bicyclists in Amsterdam. (Unsplash)
Residents of the Dutch cities of Amsterdam and Rotterdam have been removing tiles and paving stones from their front gardens to replace them with plants and trees as part of a competition to see which city could add the most green space. Rotterdam City Council member Bert Wijbenga says the initiative was aimed at involving citizens in local efforts to improve the environment.
Full Story: Bloomberg CityLab (1/5) 
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Monolith Materials' commitment to sustainable energy for its planned carbon black/anhydrous ammonia plant near Hallam, Neb., is seen as a spur to add $1.2 billion worth of wind and solar projects in the state. The company has signed an intent agreement with state and local power districts to that effect, requiring Monolith to fully rely on sustainable sources for the plant's expected 2 million megawatt-hours a year.
Full Story: Omaha World-Herald (Neb.) (1/4) 
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Advancing the Profession
The aesthetic quality of infrastructure is often compromised for the sake of project speed and volume, but engineers can buck that trend by prioritizing recognition and higher pay for craftspeople, writes K.N. Gunalan, 2020 president of the American Society of Civil Engineers. "What's more, we need to articulate the talent, skills and qualifications required to finish the work," he writes.
Full Story: Engineering News-Record (tiered subscription model) (1/6) 
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