April 28, 2017
How to spend amid cut backs to municipal infrastructure budgets

Posted by: John Hepfinger

So, your budget for municipal infrastructure repairs was cut back. What’s new? If you’re an asset owner you don’t have to be told that there’s never enough money to accomplish everything you’d like. Dealing with cutbacks and having the ability to prioritize projects can be a full time job in itself. Knowing what products can give your municipality the best bang for the buck can go a long way in stretching out your dollars. 

Allocating that budget comes with its own set of unique obstacles. Dealing with the mindset that “if it’s not failing, we’re not looking at it,” is all too often a reality — and understandably so. There simply isn’t enough money to go around, and the need to avoid a complete asset failure much outweighs the need to spend money where it is not yet needed.

Public asset owners are also at war with public perception. Infrastructure repairs that are visible to the public go a long way in assuaging those concerned with how tax payer money is being spent. Projects to roads and bridges are visible and represent money well spent, while sewer projects go unnoticed and receive less appreciation.

But perhaps the biggest challenge to effective spending is overcoming the fear of change. No engineer has ever been fired for using a product or system that has consistently worked over the last 30 years. Despite new technologies that may come with a lower price tag, the apprehension to try something new can stand in the way of getting the most from your budget.

Overcoming this fear requires looking at a list of projects with a different question in mind. Instead of asking which projects will the budget allow, a shift to asking which technologies and products are available that could accomplish the same work at a lower cost. This change could be the difference between finishing one project for $1 million or two projects for $500,000 each.

A perfect example of these types of savings can be seen with Milliken Infrastructure’s geopolymer spray linings for pipe renewal. In large diameter pipe situations (pipes of 36 inches or greater), Milliken’s product and application can be up to 50 percent cheaper than alternate repair methods, such as slip lining or CIPP.

When budgets don’t allow for long-term infrastructure repairs, municipalities should consider what a short-term repair can do for their budget. Today’s products, such as Milliken’s Concrete Cloth™ GCCM for use in culverts, on slopes, and drainage ditches, is an option as a temporary protective solution or a new lining and can be completed at the fraction of cost. As a protective liner in a culvert, Concrete Cloth will withstand five to ten years of normal wear-and-tear, but depending on the geographical location and the amount of use it receives, it could last even longer.

Regardless of the repair product being used, the one method that is sure to save money and extend budgets in the long run is to consistently practice preventative maintenance. Catching problems early will undoubtedly save tax payer money in the long run and will help to avoid the total failure of a structure. Experiencing the latter will incur exorbitant costs and can bring on massive disruptions to road ways and traffic, water systems or other public necessities.

To learn more about the different infrastructure solutions Milliken Infrastructure can provide municipalities in areas such as bridge strengthening, pipe rehabilitation and drainage, be sure to visit Milliken Infrastructure’s Markets page

Category: GeoSpray Geopolymer


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