The New York City Department of Transportation has recently begun rejecting contractors’ permit applications due to those documents lacking proof of an insurance policy that covered work above five stories. The new DOT rules appear to apply even to applicants who have no plans to work at that height. Read more
From the beaches by the Leonardo State Marina one can just make out the silhouetted skyline of Staten Island and Brooklyn. Ocean water laps lazily against the shoreline, covering the white sand with shades of blue and green. Though only a few miles from downtown Manhattan, this part of New Jersey feels like it’s a world away.
Here and there, the remains of Hurricane Sandy still haunt the streets of Middletown, New Jersey. Buildings are without siding, glass shards penetrate the ground around a plethora of broken windows and mangled fences. Those images are not uncommon in the tri-state area. What is uncommon are images that show the damage that the superstorm inflicted below the surface.
If you were to dive down into one of these affected waterways (with some reference of how the sea-floor previously looked), you would notice a sizable difference. Mud, rock, and sediment have begun to form an underwater series of hills. You look up and notice an ocean liner has passed above you, leaving a trail of bubbles in its wake. While the hills may not represent much of a problem at the moment they could eventually disrupt transportation between New Jersey river-systems, and the Atlantic which has prompted the state Department of Transportation to bid for channel dredging projects across New Jersey.
“Our state channels are vital waterways that are used by recreational boaters and commercial fisherman,” NJ DOT Commissioner James S. Simpson said. “Providing safe navigation channels will have a positive economic impact on small businesses such as marinas, bait and tackle shops and charter companies, as well as New Jersey’s seafood industry.”
Projects are currently scheduled for Monmouth, Ocean, Cape May and Atlantic counties. The dredging of the Waackaack and Thorns Creeks in Keansburg in Monmouth County began fielding bids in mid-March. Yet, the actual removal of sediment will not begin until June.
“Typically the state would not dredge in the summer, but the new program features and aggressive schedule to maximize efforts during periods of favorable dredging conditions to alleviate hazards to boaters and commercial vessels,” according to a NJ DOT press release. “Efforts will be made to ensure work does not unnecessarily impede navigation.
With sediment rising and boating season about to hit a peak, the state has quite a lot on their plate in order to ensure the safety of New Jersey residents. Nearly a year and a half later, communities are still recovering from the most devastating storm the tri-state area has seen in recent memory. But through all the hardships, the people who reside in this region have met adversity with no small amount of courage and resilience. As they rebuild, we will do what we can to help them, one new dredge, business, or home at a time.
Have you heard of the Alliance for American Competitiveness (AFAC)? If you haven’t, you are probably not alone, since the organization was created just a couple of weeks ago. The organization represents a partnership between major corporations (BNSF Railway, Caterpillar, Dow, Honeywell and UPS) that was forged in order to address growing concerns about the current state of America’s infrastructure.
Infrastructure: More Than Just Maintenance
If you’ve ever driven in or around New York City, you’ve probably seen quite a few potholes. And, if you’re one of the unlucky individuals who has hit one of these passages to the center of the Earth with your car, then you probably wondered whether or not you were actually in New York, or if you were somehow transported to El Camino de la Muerte (Bolivia’s Death Road). Luckily, you were still surrounded by that scent that reminds you that you couldn’t be anywhere but New York, but that only stalled your anger at the road for a second. You might have wondered, “Who, if anybody, maintains this and wasn’t there a stimulus package passed back in 2010 that was supposed to focus on building a quality infrastructure?”
The answer to both those questions is yes; yes, there are tons of construction workers who attempt to repair the city’s roads (there’s just too much traffic to repair all of it), and yes, the stimulus did allot a great deal of money to infrastructure improvements. Improvements are not restricted to just maintenance, according to the most recent stimulus package, because infrastructure goes far beyond just giving people a smooth drive to work in the morning (though we would all greatly appreciate it).
Building an Integrated and Modern Infrastructure
According to the AFAC website, “Our nation’s infrastructure is not just about maintaining roads, bridges, rail and waterways. It’s about how we integrate and modernize our infrastructure so that businesses can have an effective and seamless supply chain to remain competitive with the marketplace. This is critical to both short and long term growth.”
Without a modern infrastructure, the U.S. will put itself at a higher risk of falling behind economically, as businesses will move to places that have the highest quality infrastructure and best incentives. To build that system, one needs good contractors and construction workers that have the necessary skills to create the public projects (railways, bridges, roadways) that will give America a competitive advantage in the 21st century. But contractors do not work for free, they require an investment, and without the funding to produce, they will not be able to spur economic growth. As Congress debates over how much funding the Highway Trust Fund will receive, the AFAC is fighting to get the government to invest in both the present and future by investing in contractors.