Over the past decade Americans have been clamoring for a focus on infrastructure. As we watch our roads and bridges fall into disrepair, many are left wondering if some of these infrastructure challenges will ever be addressed at the federal level. Though it may be impossible to predict the next big move in Washington, DC, citizens can rest assured that their local governments have not taken their eye off the infrastructure ball, and improvements are always just around the corner. One of the largest investments in infrastructure on the local level, are roads, sidewalks, and right-of-way assets. There are 3 main reasons why local municipalities will not give up on protecting these assets.
The first and most obvious reason to invest in infrastructure management is public safety. By identifying where sidewalks and roads have begun to fail, municipalities can act quickly and responsibly to address areas of potential concern, and improve public safety within the community. This could include filling a pothole on a busy road, eliminating tripping hazards on popular sidewalk routes, ensuring pedestrian curb ramps conform to modern standards, or even improving the visibility and retroreflectivity of a stop sign at a busy intersection. By conducting regular scheduled surveys of these assets, local governments can address public safety concerns before anyone gets hurt. Maintaining and improving public safety is the primary charge given to municipal infrastructure managers. Surveying their assets is an integral first step in this task.
Another reason why municipalities survey their infrastructure assets is to protect the taxpayers investments into city infrastructure. Every year local governments around the country spend millions of dollars in taxpayer funds on infrastructure improvements to sidewalks, streets, and right-of-way assets like pavement markings and street signs. Government regulations such as GASB-34 lay out the guidelines for keeping local agencies accountable for how that money is spent. By conducting infrastructure asset surveys and seeking an independent 3rd party to analyze the data and provide feedback, local governments can provide data that backs their use of infrastructure funds. This process not only satisfies the government regulatory requirements, but it helps improve the transparency that should exist between a local government and their constituents.
Securing Additional Funds
One common reason why a local municipality is likely to seek out a 3rd party consultant for infrastructure management is simply because they need more money. The sad reality in this country is that local governments are frequently and tragically underfunded for managing the assets they are tasked with maintaining. By providing an independent 3rd party expert analysis of their infrastructure needs, local municipalities can secure much needed funding. This is why objective data is key. If an objective, data-driven 3rd party report determines your agency to be underfunded, that same report can be used to gain additional funding from the state. This is extremely common and will likely continue until a broader infrastructure funding plan is passed down from the highest levels of government. Let’s keep our fingers crossed.
At IMS we could point to any of the reasons above to justify our significance to the industry, but there is another important value that we tend to focus on even more. IMS exists to protect the bonds of trust between local governments and their constituents. The trust that exists between the citizen and their representatives is foundational to our system of government. By providing our clients with the best possible data and analysis, they can make informed, data-driven decisions, and maintain the bonds of trust with the communities they serve.