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ACEC News / Infrastructure Funding

September 17, 2020

ACEC Research Institute Hosts Expert Panel on Funding and Financing Infrastructure

The ACEC Research Institute, in partnership with Accelerator for America and the New Partnership on Infrastructure, hosted an online panel on Wednesday looking at recommendations to better align federal infrastructure funding and financing to local needs.

The panelists were Steve Benjamin, mayor of Columbia, S.C., Stephanie Wiggins, CEO of MetroLink; D J Gribbin, non-resident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution; and Sylvia Garcia, principal consultant at WSP USA.

The panelists discussed four of the 26 recommendations for improving infrastructure programs published in Community Serving Infrastructure: A Playbook for a New Infrastructure Partnership, which was recently published by the New Partnership for Infrastructure, the ACEC Research Institute, and several other organizations, including WSP USA and HNTB.

Mayor Benjamin highlighted Recommendation 15: Federal Support for Bond Issuance. He said that the current situation, in which cities face hundreds of billions in lost tax receipts due to COVID-19 and the resulting economic slowdown, makes it even more critical that the federal government help cities raise capital for infrastructure  

In focusing on Recommendation 19: Increase Direct Regional Funding, Wiggins said, “Mobility not bound by city or county lines, but too often federal funding is.” Directing federal funds on a regional basis would allow for a more efficient response to local needs.

Gribbin addressed Recommendation 15: Federal Credit Programs and Refinancing, specifically looking at low-interest loans for infrastructure. He said expanding the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) “is a no-brainer. It’s a phenomenal program that has been very successful.” He also called for lifting the cap on private activity bonds.

On Recommendation 14: Pre-Development Funds and Technical Support, Garcia said “Because a lot of the focus historically has been on highways and construction, we miss an opportunity to think about what needs to be developed.” Rather than focus on “shovel-ready” projects, Garcia suggested the federal government should support “shovel-worthy” projects.

Click here to listen to the hour-long panel discussion.

The ACEC Research Institute will host three more panel discussions:

September 23: Project Acceleration Tools and Processes

September 30: Innovation in Climate and Water Infrastructure

October 7: Holistic Infrastructure Planning and Design 


All comments to blog posts will be moderated by ACEC staff.

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September 17, 2020



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