7 Steps to Maximize IIJA-Funded Infrastructure Projects
Strategies that Put Your Community First
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) allows for specific infrastructure spending for water, sewer, and broadband investments. The $1 Trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed in November 2021 aims to address aging public works projects and other infrastructure needs across the country. This legislation is vital for community resilience, particularly for rural, disadvantaged, and hard-to-reach communities. In managing IIJA funds, municipalities need more time, energy, and expertise than ever before. This is especially challenging as municipalities face workforce shortages, supply chain issues, and competing priorities.
Now is the time to shelve low-impact projects and maximize IIJA funding opportunities. With these strategies, municipal leaders can prioritize the projects that benefit the communities they serve.
- Asset Management Planning
Asset management provides utility managers and decision-makers with critical information on capital assets and the timing of infrastructure investments such as roadway and water/wastewater systems. Key steps include inventorying critical assets, evaluating their condition and performance, and developing plans to maintain, repair, and replace assets with proper funding.
Community Benefit: Critical repairs to roadway and water/wastewater systems addresses critical health and safety issues. Continued maintenance extends infrastructure’s useful life.
- Asset Life Cycle Costing
Smart infrastructure investment is about understanding the total cost of ownership and utilization from purchase through disposal. The lowest price option may or may not be the least costly to procure once long-term energy costs, maintenance, repairs, and life expectancy are calculated over the asset’s useful life. Conducting a life cycle cost assessment helps predict how much a community will spend across all departments over an asset’s entire life to make better capital expenditure purchasing decisions.
Community Benefit: Long-term investments create long-lasting value for current and future residents.
- Integrated Infrastructure Planning
Multi-department project collaboration balances distinct departmental goals with community goals for financial, operational, and community gains. Unifying departments during the planning process unlocks advantages by packaging underground infrastructure improvements with road, sidewalk, and other right-of-way improvement projects.
Community Benefit: Minimized construction impacts and improved community confidence.
- Promote the Real Estate Portfolio
Leaders can share information with economic development teams to effectively market their properties. Asset management tools arm leaders with an inventory and assessment of each property’s characteristics which can then create GIS infrastructure base maps that outline site utility access. These insights empower teams to promote development where infrastructure capacity exists.
Community Benefit: Investment in the community grows revenue, attracts and retains residents, spurs development, and increases opportunities.
- Conduct an Infrastructure Needs Assessment
Evaluate the condition, capacity, and lifespan of the existing infrastructure and compare this to future needs. Conducting due diligence allows department leaders to optimize existing systems for maximum output and reallocate funds as needed.
Community Benefit: Clarity and alignment on existing and future investments.
- Apply for Grants and Funding Opportunities
Local, state, national, and federal organizations offer various grants and loans for communities of different sizes and economic positions. While grants are deemed more attractive, the application process is competitive,
costly, and complex and outside expertise may be needed.
Community Benefit: Goals are met with fiscal responsibility.
- Incorporate Amenities and Beautification Elements
Include greenways, landscapes/streetscapes, and parks in roadway and water/wastewater projects. These projects provide an opportunity to strengthen public opinion and property values while leaving behind a legacy for future residents.
Community Benefit: Increased property values and a sense of pride.
We Can Help
Metro Consulting Associates can help identify the highest and best use of IIJA funds to make a lasting impact in your community. Our partnership approach augments your existing in-house expertise to deliver right-sized
solutions, at right-sized rates, to amplify infrastructure improvements.
About The Author
Jarion L. Bradley, PE