Barry LePatner was interviewed on CNBC by the four hosts of the daily business TV program, “Power Lunch" to discuss the state of our nation’s infrastructure and the news surrounding the failed dam in Orreville, California.
The hosts were very savvy on the subject and most interested when he urged the need for an “infrastructure Czar” to break thru the morass of the logjam created by the US Congress for the past several decades.
Mr. LePatner believes there remains substantial congressional logjams that will mitigate against the full onslaught of pushing through a comprehensive infrastructure program over the next few years. While we should remain hopeful, as this was a strong issue for President Trump, the hurdles his administration will face in trying to effect such a program will be substantial.
January 24, 2011
Alexander Tuttle, a Partner with LePatner & Associates, recently wrote an article for distribution among friends and colleagues. In the article, entitled "Reclaiming the Architect's Authority," Mr. Tuttle discusses how architects' authority over construction projects have eroded in the last 40 years and advocates recapturing their role as "Master Builder". Currently, construction managers run unchecked on projects. Invariable delays occur, which lead to construction cost overruns.
Mr. Tuttle considers how implementing a fixed price construction process through up-front project planning, complete and coordinated construction documents and more extensive architectural project oversight will carve a new landscape in the industry -- reclaiming architects' authority. Consider, for example, if architects could stand behind complete and coordinate design documents? If architects could restore owner control over the project budgets? And if, when the design documents were completed, the owner secured an independent cost estimate that would define the parameters of the costs to be anticipated by the contractor bidders? This is the essence of the LePatner C3™ Methodolgy.
Mr. Tuttle concludes that the construction industry is ripe for change. And change will only emerge through construction cost certainty and architects reclaiming their role as efficient and effective intermediaries. We hope you find this article interesting.
In the New York Times’ new six-part “Living City” series, Barry LePatner weighs in on the state of New York City’s bridges and offers commentary on the renovation of the Brooklyn Bridge and the handling of infrastructure in New York City. “Living City: A Tale of Two Bridges” presents a brief history of New York City’s bridges and compares the decision to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge with the decision to repair the iconic Brooklyn Bridge. Click here to take you to the video.
Sep. 18, 2014
With thousands of bridges in New York State deemed structurally deficient, there are two choices: repair or rebuild. The 60-year-old Tappan Zee Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge are the latest examples. In this video from the New York Times’ six-part “Living City” series, Barry LePatner weighs in on the state of New York City’s bridges and offers commentary on the renovation of the Brooklyn Bridge and the handling of infrastructure in New York City. “Living City: A Tale of Two Bridges” presents a brief history of New York City’s bridges and compares the decision to replace the Tappan Zee Bridge with the decision to repair the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.
Oh, if only we could just say it is true and have it become so. Here is yet another blatant attempt by the American Society of Civil Engineers to sugarcoat the serious problems with our nation’s bridge infrastructure. It is bad enough that the ASCE consistently issues an Infrastructure Report Card giving our ailing bridges a “C+” every few years. This totally ignores the fact that we have nearly 8,000 bridges that are both structurally deficient and fracture critical, meaning they can collapse – just as the )-35W in Minnesota and the I-5 over the Skagit River in Washington did in recent years – posing a deadly threat to the traveling public. Not to mention that 140,000 vehicles every day travel 3.5 miles over the Tappan Zee Bridge (which has to wait a few more years for a replacement), which gives boaters under the bridge a chance to look up and see skylight seeping thru the failing substructure. Please see my comment at the end of the ASCE-generated article. We will need to continue to “hold our collective breaths” until either further unwarranted tragedy occurs or Congress begins to see the proverbial light to enhanced funding.
March 18, 2013
Barry LePatner was interviewed on 20/20 this past Friday night on its segment covering "America's Most Dangerous Bridges." Citing research from his book, Too Big To Fall on the perilous state of our nation's infrastructure, LePatner advocated more dedicated funds be allocated toward repair and maintenance, especially for the more than 8,000 structurally deficient and fracture critical bridges across the country. You can see all of them at www.SaveOurBridges.com.
And stay off the Tappan Zee!
I thought that interest in the nation’s infrastructure plight would fall off drastically within a few days of President Obama’s State of the Union address in mid-January where he alluded to the need for more investment to improve the “72,000 structurally deficient bridges” across our nation. Yes, there were the interviews I gave to BBC-TV and appearances on CNBC’s First Business, along with radio and newspaper quotes over the next week or two. But I then expected the nation would quickly return to the sequester fun that the US Congress is having, the novelty of a Pope resigning for the first time in 700 years, or the burning issue as to whether the 100 magazines that pictured Taylor Swift on their covers in 2012 ever saw even the tiniest bump in circulation from putting her on the cover as opposed to Angelina Jolie or Jessica whoever (in fact, there was not the slightest bump up for sad Taylor).
So I was somewhat surprised to hear directly from a producer for ABC-TV’s highly acclaimed 20/20 that they wanted to come over and do an interview on infrastructure for their show this Friday night. It was only early on Monday morning of this week that the producers mentioned that the interview would be done by Deborah Roberts, who appeared several hours later all prepared to discuss the fragility of our nation’s bridges and just how we got ourselves into this sorry state of affairs. Within two hours, 20/20's crew literally set up an interview studio in the rear section of our offices using hundreds of feet of cabling, lots of hot lights and cameras galore.
As the interview proceeded it was apparent that Ms. Roberts began to grasp the enormity of the crisis blurting out, “so, it’s not about if these 8,000 structurally deficient bridges that are also fracture critical bridges are going to fall someday, … it’s …" and she left off in a rather theatrical way, nodding for me to finish the sentence…."it’s just a matter of when since every engineer associated with bridge design and maintenance understands that gravity always wins.”
The full interview will be shown this coming Friday on 20/20 at 10 PM EDT. Tune in and let me know if I made a persuasive case for one of our nation’s most underrated subjects needing immediate attention.
Fix it first. With these three simple words, in Tuesday night’s State of the Union, President Obama laid out a $50-billion dollar infrastructure plan that would focus on repairing the nation’s most in-need roads and bridges. It was music to the ears of author and infrastructure expert Barry LePatner.
“I was very pleased to hear about the President’s ‘Fix It First’ plan,” says LePatner, creator of www.SaveOurBridges.com and author of Too Big to Fall: America’s Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward (www.TooBigToFall.com). “As many policymakers, infrastructure experts and those in the construction industry know, I’ve been insisting we address our dire infrastructure needs since the I-35W bridge tragically collapsed in Minneapolis in August 2007.”
“I strongly encourage Congress to approve this spending. It is simply not true that there is no money for infrastructure investment. Over the years, politicians have channeled their allotted federal funds to build new projects that lead to ribbon-cutting ceremonies, publicity, and votes. Repair projects just haven’t been sexy enough.”
LePatner recently appeared on BBC News to address our Nation’s failing infrastructure and to discuss the Tappan Zee Bridge. In addition, LePatner was also called upon to speak on the Nation’s infrastructure on “Street Signs” hosted by Brian Sullivan on CNBC.
U.S. bridges can be repaired without impacting the deficit, insists LePatner. Repairing the top 2,000 bridges would cost an estimated $30-60 billion and would put 1.2 million construction workers to work. These workers, many of whom would be coming off of unemployment, would pay back 30 percent of their money earned in income taxes, and much of the rest would be pumped back into the economy through their consumer spending.
LePatner thinks Americans have a right to know just how bad the nation’s infrastructure has gotten. That’s why he recently created SaveOurBridges.com, a site he hopes will not only educate the public on the dangerous bridges in their communities but will help bring attention to an issue that has been continuously ignored by the nation’s policymakers. The site pinpoints the 7,980 bridges in the U.S. that are both structurally deficient and fracture critical, just as the I-35W Bridge was prior to its collapse. It also allows visitors to search by zip code or city and state to find the dangerous bridges in their area. “With ‘Fix It First,’ the President is taking a bold and necessary move,” says LePatner. “We can no longer treat our infrastructure as a second- or third-tier priority when it comes to funding. President Obama seems to understand and the rest of the nation needs to know that the risks we face are not limited to the dangers they cause to the traveling public. They include jeopardizing our country’s entire commercial sector as well as our national security network.”
“I hope the nation’s other leaders realize that they can’t wait any longer to provide the needed funding to make our bridges safe,” he concludes. “They must act now. Concrete, steel, and money aren’t the only things at stake. Lives are at stake. Nothing is more important than that.”
In Barry LePatner’s book, Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets, he wrote that our nation was poised to see tremendous economic growth and cited some impressive facts: the U.S. population would expand from 300 million to 400 million by the year 2045; between 2000 and 2030, the number of Americans over the age of 65 will more than double and see massive migration to the South and Southwest where we will build 100 billion square feet of new homes; that U.S. construction in the next thirty years would represent a boom of $25 trillion that would sweep along every sector of the U.S. economy. Of course, there are many who see the severe downturn in the economy over the past few years as an indication that our nation will not be returning to glory days of a roaring economy anytime soon nor see such heady news of a renewed economy likely to eventuate. LePatner could not disagree more.
So for those who want to see a real economic harbinger of things to come (now that spring flowers are budding along the streets and byways of our nation) here are a few statistics to buoy your own sense of optimism. They come courtesy of the Urban Land Institute and its survey of 38 leading real estate economists across the nation. The results show solid reasons for a rebounding economy. Keep in mind that real estate and the associated activity that it generates in the construction industry are true leading indicators of an economy emerging from a recession.
The ULI survey notes that over the next three years:
Commercial property transaction volume is expected to increase over 50%; Institutional real estate assets and REITS are expected to provide returns ranging from 8.5% to 11% annually; Vacancy rates are expected to drop in a range from 1.2 and 3.7 percentage points for office, retail and industrial properties while hotel occupancy rates are likely to rise; Housing starts will nearly double by 2014 and home prices will begin to rise in 2013 increasing by 3.5% in 2014.
The economists surveyed expect GDP to rise steadily from 2.5% in 2012 to 3% in 2013 and 3.2% in 2014. Unemployment is expected to fall to 6.9% by 2014 and we will see new job creation total 2 million in 2012, 2.5 million in 2013 and 2.75 million in 2014.
And, yes, there may be bumpy roads ahead and some doubts attributable to the European debt crisis, Middle East tensions, access to oil and climate change. But we need to remember that these same or similar world concerns have been around for many decades where the U.S. economy grew and prospered following every recession on record. Naysayers can join in against these thoughts, but it is hard to ignore the pent up demand of our economy where corporations, lean and mean from the recession and flush with monstrous amounts of cash on hand, are not going to continue to grow or, at the expense of other well-heeled competitors, take on the characteristics of the dinosaur and die off unnecessarily.
As always, we welcome comments.
As the new year kicks off, signs that our national and state leaders are beginning to finally recognize the job-creating potential that rests with infrastructure investment are rife. No longer are we seeing politicians trying to gain recognition by cancelling billion dollar bridge, road or rail projects, claiming that they will increase the deficit — even as they destroyed tens of thousands of good-paying several year long jobs. As evidence that those tactics were self-defeating see the recall petitions running through the states of Wisconsin and Indiana and the fact that the Federal government recently forced the State of New Jersey to refund over $275 million for outlays that were part of the planning and design for the now-cancelled ARC tunnel project under the Hudson River.
Attention is also being paid to New York State where Governor Andrew Cuomo, in his State of the State speech announced a $15 billion infrastructure program that included the proposed commencement of construction for a much-needed new Tappan Zee Bridge. Well, the problem here is that the still under construction Interstate 287 in Westchester County that connects Connecticut to the Tappan Zee Bridge has had the terrible misfortune of being $78 million over budget and unaccountably equates to about $70 million a mile for its construction.
So how will New York State even begin to approach construction for what undoubtedly become a $10 – $20 billion effort to replace the structurally deficient and fracture critical Tappan Zee that each year costs the state $100 million to merely keep from falling into the Hudson River becoming the next version of the doomed I-35W that collapsed in Minneapolis in August 2007?
Barry LePatner’s recent Op Ed piece in Newsday provides some serious suggestions that Governor Cuomo should heed before he starts down the slippery slope of turning so much money over to the highly inefficient and often corrupt construction industry. As always, we welcome your thoughts and comments.
Mike Lindblom, transportation writer for “The Seattle Times,” recently wrote on article on Barry LePatner’s new book “Too Big to Fall: America’s Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward”. The article, entitled “‘Too Big to Fall:’ the hazardous health of America’s roads and bridges“ highlight’s the nation’s denial regarding the state of its infrastructure, noting “Elected officials crave the fame of cutting the ribbon on a new highway, rather than maintaining an old bridge.”
Linblom’s article notes that some politicians have awakened to the crisis, which makes "'Too Big to Fall’ a timely book.” In the mean time while the crumbling continues with America’s infrastructure, the article endorses LePatner’s urging of states to install strain gauges, weight scales, cameras and corrosion sensors to gather bridge data around the clock, instead of trusting sporadic visual inspections.
For his Seattle readers, Lindblom notes that even in the “enlightened Washington state,” only about $1.1 billion of the $9 billion 2011-12 transportation budget goes directly to highway preservation or maintenance.” Lindblom advises, “Washington state Transportation Secretary Paula Hammond suggests a quota for maintenance in the next round of Washington state transportation taxes — even if fewer new lanes are built. Until then, this book offers professional and armchair engineers a wealth of history to place future road failures in perspective.”
Mr. Lindblom’s article is another example of the need for spreading the word and sounding the alarm regarding the nation’s failing infrastructure. The fear of cost overruns should not doom infrastructure projects, where there exists a methodology to eliminate these concerns. The LePatner C³ Model allows owners to regain control of their projects and re-balance their relationship with the contractor by obtaining, for the first time, true complete-price contracts with those building their projects.
The alarming story told by Barry B. LePatner in his new book, Too Big to Fall, is making the rounds. In a recent article in the New York Post, LePatner gave an interview that resulted in a full page article entitled “Bridge of Size: Tappan Zee, like many other US bridges, is falling down.”
The article uses the story of the quite perilous state of the Tappan Zee Bridge, over which 140,000 vehicles cross the Hudson River each day, to illustrate the perilous situation that our nation's infrastructure faces. Citing statistics from Too Big to Fall, the article, written by Lois Weiss, relates to the 7,980 bridges in the nation that are both structurally deficient as well as fracture critical. Fracture critical bridges are vulnerable to collapse if even one critical structural member fails, a possibility made even more likely when these bridges are subject to corrosion and deterioration due to deferred maintenance.
The Tappan Zee may be replaced for an estimated $16 billion (if not more due to unwarranted cost overruns that plague the construction industry) if the funding can be found. However, finding funding is highly unlikely in these budget deficit days. This exposes millions of travelers annually over that bridge to face a very dangerous prospect indeed.
Barry LePatner gave a speech at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C. on the alarming state of the nation's infrastructure before an influential group of transportation and infrastructure officials and lobbyists, including former Deputy Secretary of Transportation, the head of AASHTO, the managing director of the ASCE, the Executive Director of the Transportation Research Board, and the Director of the Carnegie Endowment as well as leaders from ULI and reporters from Bloomberg News. Highlighting findings and research from his recently published book, Too Big To Fall: America's Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward, LePatner discussed at length the importance of obtaining true complete-price contracts for infrastructure projects. Critical issues related to funding were raised and discussed during the Q&A.
According to Robert Puentes, Senior Fellow of the Metropolitan Planning Program at the Brookings Institution and author of a foreward to Too Big To Fall, LePatner's speech was well-received and was "as if it given by Pennsylvania Governor Edward Rendell with statistics." LePatner distributed copies of the firm's LePatner C3 Model" whitepaper and his new analysis of the NTSB Report on the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis.
Bloomberg News and other bloggers covered the event.
Audio excerpts of Barry's speech will be posted soon.
December 14, 2010
The 30th Anniversary LePatner Report is now available on our Publications page. In this special issue, Barry LePatner reflects on the firm's history and how he's positioning it for a bright future. And we share photos from our 30th Anniversary Party that we held at the Central Park Boathouse on October 27.
Hear Barry LePatner discuss the critical infrastructure issues he details in his new book, Too Big To Fall. In this forty minute interview, he relates the realities of our nation's inefficient construction industry, as discussed in his previous book Broken Buildings, Busted Budgets, to the inability of our political leaders to properly finance proactive maintenance on our nation's deteriorating roadways, bridges, and other crucial infrastructure. We invite you to take the time to listen and then forward on to friends and others interested in these issues. Listen here.
To celebrate, we threw ourselves a nice party at the Central Park Boathouse for our clients, colleagues and friends. Thanks all for your support and confidence over the years. We will continue our tradition of providing industry-leading counsel, project management, and now, integrity compliance services in the years ahead. Read our 30th Anniversary LePatner Report for party photos, announcements and reflections on the firm's history and future.
Barry LePatner's latest book, Too Big To Fall: America's Failing Infrastructure and the Way Forward (Foster Publishing in association with the University Press of New England) is now available at Amazon.com, and will be available in bookstores by early November. For the first time, it provides a comprehensive overview of the shocking state of the nation's infrastructure and what must be done to fix it. For a more detailed description of the book and information on how to contact Barry LePatner for media appearances or presentations, visit the Too Big To Fall website or the UPNE website.
Sepember 10, 2010
Two recent articles in The Real Deal confirm from construction industry leaders what we've been telling our clients all along: that contractors systematically underbid to get a project only to run the costs up after they've signed the agreement. It's no surprise that this practice is more prevalent than ever in this tough economy and weak construction environment. Link to "Lowballs Lead to Strikeouts" and "Hard Times for Hard Hats."
But we are pioneering a different way: the LePatner C3™ Model. Read about it here.