Three pieces of the bipartisan infrastructure bill moving through Congress are favorable to the development of public-private partnerships. One would boost the cap on private activity bonds, another would provide $100 million in grants for technical assistance with P3 procurement, and the third mandates a value-for-money analysis for projects pursuing credit assistance under certain programs if capital costs reach $750 million or more.
Weak political support for transit partially explains why such projects take much longer and cost 50 percent more in the US than in Canada and Europe, according to a study by the Eno Center for Transportation. Other factors include over-customization, delays in land acquisition and inefficient environmental study processes, all of which extend timelines and thereby add to costs.
SmartTake: The good news is there are ways to fix this. Solutions detailed in the report include using standarized designs, sometimes saying no to costly citizen requests, creating smaller contracts, identifying utilities underground before construction begins and streamlining permit processes.
Researchers are stepping into intersection crosswalks in the Twin Cities to determine how often cars stop for pedestrians as required by law. The study by the University of Minnesota is intended to address the reasons behind an increase in pedestrian collisions over the past 10 years.
SmartTake: In one sample, only 28 percent of cars stopped for a researcher in a crosswalk. Sounds like a dangerous assignment. Aggressive drivers may require aggressive traffic management solutions.
Iowa is the only state to generate more than half its energy from renewable sources, according to a report by the American Clean Power Association. Iowa's 57.6% topped Kansas, in second place with 43.4%, and Oklahoma in third with 35.5%.
Robots the size of blood cells made of biodegradable polymer would deliver drugs precisely to cancerous sites in the body. That's the vision of ETH Zurich mechanical and process engineering professor Daniel Ahmed, who believes he can use ultrasound to guide the tiny robots through the bloodstream once they're injected.
Community colleges can provide an affordable step toward a four-year college degree, but their two-year programs can also fill "a crucial gap in workforce development, providing focused, often specialized training," writes HP Chief Engineer Chandrakant Patel. The key is the
schools' flexibility to accommodate ongoing disruptions in STEM fields and quickly provide skillsets to meet ever-changing employer demands.
A new tech-heavy Coalition for Urban Innovation is advocating federal assistance to promote smart technologies in cities. "The coalition will provide a unique voice in the infrastructure debate, calling not just for badly needed funding for cities and urban areas but also for mobilizing federal support for new innovations and technologies that will help tackle climate change and equity challenges," said urbanist Richard Florida, a member of the group's advisory board.
A team at Carnegie Mellon University is tackling one of the toughest things for autonomous vehicles -- driving on busy, narrow streets, which requires collaboration with other drivers. They've produced a promising algorithm based on probabilities estimating how likely human or robotic drivers are to yield to others in a given situation, taking into account the balance of aggression versus cooperation.
Forty-six miles of Interstate 70 in Glenwood Canyon, Colo., is closed, after heavy rains sent mud, logs and boulders sliding onto the highway. Forecasters predict more flooding in coming days.
The Environmental Protection Agency may narrow the definition of Waters of the United States from rules applied during the Obama administration, but leave it wider than that applied under President Trump. The agency will hold public meetings this month to gather feedback, especially from agricultural groups who President Joe Biden hopes will find the proposed WOTUS definition more acceptable than the Obama-era one.
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