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Victor Mendez

Victor Mendez

Every Day Counts Is Making A Difference

by Victor Mendez on April 09, 2012
Administrator, Federal Highway Administration

I wanted to use this edition of the Forum to take stock of where our Every Day Counts initiative stands and reflect a bit on where it fits into the larger context of the issues facing our nation.

My overall sense is that we’ve been very successful at bringing a greater focus on innovation to the transportation community. Working as partners with state governments, local agencies and the private sector, we’ve started something together that promises to benefit the public long into the future. Thank you for all you’ve done to help make that happen.

But I don’t want to use this opportunity just to pat ourselves on the back. It’s important to keep in mind why we’re pursuing EDC and why we need to keep at it.

In these tough economic times, I don’t think there’s a person in America who doesn’t know someone looking for work, whether it’s a friend, a neighbor or a member of our own family. It’s also hard to imagine a government agency at any level that isn’t facing real budget constraints and the prospect of having to do more with less.

In my view, that’s why EDC has been so well received. It’s helping meet President Obama’s goal of getting job-creating projects moving so we can put people back to work. In fact, he singled out Every Day Counts for its contribution to the national effort to streamline the planning and approval process so we can start building projects and creating jobs.

And we’re seeing a growing body of evidence that EDC is helping governments stretch their transportation dollars so they can deliver more projects – and more jobs – for less money. The Bitter Creek Bridge in Grand County, Utah is a good example that recently came to our attention.

This bridge was originally slated for replacement at an estimated cost of $4 million. Concerned about the price tag, the county decided to get early input from the contractor using the EDC initiative of Construction Manager/General Contractor (CM/GC). By enlisting the contractor up front, the county got a new recommendation: repair the bridge instead of replacing it. The cost of the repair: $400,000.

The substantial $3.6 million savings can now be directed to additional projects to create jobs for the people of Grand County and eastern Utah.

That’s just one example. But it underscores my larger purpose in launching EDC in the first place. I’ve always believed that our focus should be greater than the specific technologies or strategies that make up Round One or any future rounds. Instead, my broader goal was to create a culture that was committed to innovation and to foster an approach where people look for innovative solutions. I’m convinced we’re headed in that direction!

Now our challenge is to keep the momentum going and make our better, faster, smarter approach a permanent part of the transportation culture. I look forward to working with you as we advance toward that goal.

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