This week, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) released its 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, designating thirteen upcoming projects as "Infrastructure Gamechangers." These game-changers earned their status due to their transformative innovations in the way engineers plan, build, and adapt to infrastructure needs.
According to ASCE president Jean-Louis Briaud, "Our nation's infrastructure just received a 'C-'in ASCE's 2021 Infrastructure Report Card, which is not the type of grade you want to bring home. Promoting innovative practices, principles and projects are one of the ways in which we can improve this grade. With resources stretched thin, finding solutions that can make the most of the tools afforded us can be a challenge but is an essential component of improving the built environment. This year's Gamechangers are a testament to the forward-thinking nature of the engineering community."
The thirteen Infrastructure Gamechangers are:
• The Acela Train will travel from Washington D.C. to Boston at 160 miles per hour. The project costs $2.4 billion.
• Arizona's Department of Transportation Dust Detection and Dynamic Response System. This system combats the role dust storms play in traffic accidents, using both short-range detectors and long-range radar to control variable speed limit signs and message boards.
• Indiana's Department of Transportation Concrete Sensors puts sensors in concrete that will monitor the structure's lifespan and notify the department when to make replacements.
• Long Ridge Energy Terminal in Ohio burns carbon-free hydrogen; it's the first in the world to blend hydrogen in the gas turbine, making it 100% green.
• Massachusetts' Department of Energy Resources' Clean Peak Energy Standard provides incentives to utilize clean energy. Administrators of the standard predict a $710 million savings over the next decade.
• Michigan's Department of Transportation's EMILY, an autonomous "boat-like device" that inspects bridge scour with cameras and sonar more effectively than human divers.
• North Dakota's Department of Transportation Autonomous Impact Protection Vehicle protects construction crews on the road. Operators drive this vehicle remotely to protect workers inside the vehicle from injuries.
• North Carolina's Flood Prediction Monitoring System, under construction in the flood-prone town of Cary, uses wireless sensors and rain gauges to notify first responders and residents via Internet of Things (IoT) devices.
• Oregon's In-Pipe Hydroelectric Project in Hillsboro uses pressure already existing in the water system to generate enough power for electric vehicle charging stations and a recreation center.
• Port of Los Angeles's Port Optimizer program unifies all port users, including shipping lines, marine terminals, motor carriers, and railroads, to increase efficiency by 8-12%.
• RanMarine's WasteShark, a drone system under construction in Atlanta, GA, automatically roams waterways to pick up trash and debris.
• Smart Circuit Autonomous Shuttle Bus, a free bus in downtown Columbus, OH, seats 15 passengers.
Following the "C-"grade that the ASCE gave the country's infrastructure in 2021, the organization believes that future years will fare better. (The grade had improved from 'D+" in 2017.)
Meanwhile, the ASCE report showcases impressive innovations to impact the future of infrastructure positively.