Infrastructure in the News: Innovation Sends Snow Packing

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With winter storm Jonas blasting the Northeast with record-setting amounts of snow, our nation’s already stressed water pipes, roofs and roads were put to the test.

While major snow events bring many challenges, they also provide opportunities for innovation. One innovation, coined by The University of Nebraska-Lincoln’s Chris Tuan, is a special concrete mixture that is designed to heat up and melt any snow or ice that settles on it. But Tuan is not the only groundbreaker. A family in N.J. developed its own geothermal solar snow-melt system that applies heat to the driveway and walkways to melt snow. In response to the havoc cold temps can cause on water mains and potholes, a team of innovators in Syracuse, N.Y. has taken steps toward installing magnetic sensors in their water pipes to reduce water main breaks, and is working with a company that has developed technology to map the city’s road deficiencies.

Because the FAST Act will only provide limited funds for infrastructure maintenance, there is still great need for new ways to fund infrastructure.

Because of this funding gap, many states are seeking ways to generate funding they need for projects. California is moving ahead with a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) program that will involve 5,000 driver volunteers who track their mileage and pay taxes based on miles driven rather than how many gallons of gas they consume. And Alabama and Oregon are considering raising their state gas tax to generate more funding for infrastructure projects.s

With intense winter weather wearing on our roads and water infrastructure and increased need for funding, it is still critical that elected leaders at the federal, state and local levels continue to prioritize investment into the backbone of our economy.

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