Expert Pitch
Arizona State University (ASU)

Infrastructure expert available to address waterways, ports and ferry systems, roads and bridges, railways and buried infrastructure

As the House begins to look at President Joe Biden’s infrastructure proposal, Arizona State University has a roster of experts available to address civil engineering components and what is critical to preparing the United States for the future. 

Anthony Lamanna is the Sundt Professor of Alternative Delivery Methods and Sustainable Development and Programs Chair of the Del E. Webb School of Construction.  

Below are examples of Lamanna’s expertise as related to infrastructure proposals presented by President Joe Biden on March 31, 2021. Pull quotes provided below may be used with full attribution and notification of use.

Modernize 20,000 miles of highways, roads and main streets

Lamanna has a patent in rapid repair techniques used on off-system highway bridges.  He can contribute to repair vs. retrofit vs. replace discussions.

$20 billion to improve road safety for all users, including fixing the most economically significant large bridges and repair to the worst 10,000 smaller bridges.

  • Road Safety: Lamanna has worked the area of Fiber Reinforced Polymer (FRP) guardrails, pertinent to discussions about new construction materials.  
  • Bridges: Lamanna has been involved in the design and retrofit retrofit/hardening of structures for reasons such as high winds, storm surge, blast, and small arms fire. This expertise is relevant to such topics as the overhaul of the Golden Gate Bridge to improve earthquake resistance.

Address Amtrak's repair backlog and modernize the Northeast Corridor line between Boston and Washington DC, as well as to connect more cities.

Lamanna’s research background includes examining the viability and sustainability of wooden railroad bridges for a project funded by the U.S. Army.  “While funds from Biden’s infrastructure plan likely will be directed toward Amtrack’s primarily northeast track, the company also rents track from freight companies like Union Pacific.” 

Modernize airports and inland waterways, ports and ferries.

Lamanna has done value engineering studies on levees, floodwalls, and locks and engineering projects on facilities throughout the Gulf Coast. 

“Waterways, ports, and ferries are major components of transportation infrastructure, but are often overlooked for funding inclusion.” 

Housing

  • Build, preserve and retrofit more than two million homes and housing units.  Within the residential construction industry, Lamanna works with both high-end and mid-range builders. On the “affordable end,” he continues to design the houses for Habitat for Humanity of Greater New Orleans.

“In general, when a homeowner has “extra” funds while building a house, they spend it on countertops, flooring, and other cosmetic elements, not taking the opportunity to buy energy efficient improvements.  

“There is an issue with the idea of affordable,” said Lamanna, who served as the court appointed expert witness for a contentious case in a fight against mixed-income housing developments. “Good practices generally support mixed-income housing for a variety of reasons, including avoiding highly concentrations of low-income housing and the ability to gradually increase rent as people gain employment vs. forcing them to move, providing life skills learning close by, and so on.”

  • Build and rehabilitate more than 500,000 homes for low- and middle-income homebuyers. 

“People of modest means struggle to qualify for home purchases, let alone find the bandwidth and finances to renovate. I don’t advocate going back to the days of giving anybody who walks in a 110% mortgage, but something must be done to provide affordable housing. 

“Half a million homes will barely scratch the surface of what’s needed, but perhaps the programs developed can be looked at as testing and scaling programs.”

  • Eliminate exclusionary zoning laws, which the White House says inflates housing and construction costs.  

While a court-appointed witness in Louisiana, Lamanna dealt with this issue.

“The parish council [same as a county council] passed an ordinance banning zoning for more than two-family units,” said Lamanna. Federal HUD threatened to revoke the parish’s housing funding and all funding to Louisiana.  The council rescinded the law a few days later.”

  • Enact a new grant program that awards flexible funding to jurisdictions that take steps to eliminate barriers to creating affordable housing. 

“Based on my experience working with municipalities, this “flexible funding” will require checks and balances to ensure the intent of the grants remain intact.”

Additional Pull Quotes

Construction Practices and Codes

“There is a distinct gap between cutting edge research on new technologies, materials, and methods, and what is used in the construction industry. Making new research available to practitioners, both engineers and builders, is essential to having these breakthroughs be implemented.

“Packaging new information so that it's easily incorporated into building codes is critical for acceptance by engineers and local jurisdictions. Construction trade workforce needs to be approached from a branding standpoint. Unlike cybersecurity and manufacturing, we have the training programs available.

“The problem is overcoming construction industry stereotypes with students, parents, and the general public. Bringing together the different sectors of the construction industry is also important; currently they are working against each other.

“A neutral third party that is not a builder or trainer of the trades, like ASU’s Del E. Webb School of Construction, for example, could be instrumental in bringing together all interested parties.”

Railways

“Currently, the only incentive for private railway companies to maintain or update their infrastructure is the cost of downtime when something fails.

“It would be beneficial to provide incentives for these companies to update their critical infrastructure that moves goods around the country.

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