Nedra Davis, project manager in Atkins’ Louisiana Water Resources group, recently completed an undertaking for the Louisiana Section of the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) during which she served as communications director and editor for the creation of a comprehensive statewide “report card” that evaluates the condition of the Pelican State’s infrastructure. Over the course of 18 months, Davis and a team of 50 volunteers developed a highly detailed, peer-reviewed report that evaluated and rated nine categories of Louisiana infrastructure: roads, bridges, ports, levees, dams, aviation, wastewater, drinking water and solid waste.
In itself a remarkable effort, "The Report Card for Louisiana's Infrastructure" has been described as the most unbiased, peer-reviewed assessment of Louisiana’s infrastructure ever produced. The purpose of the Report Card project is to raise public awareness of the state of Louisiana’s infrastructure.
Davis said, “It was a massive undertaking. Our volunteers were primarily licensed professional civil engineers in private practice, government agencies and academia. They gathered data from a wide range of agencies across the state, disseminated the data and graded the infrastructure based on factors such as the infrastructure’s overall condition, capacity, funding, operation and maintenance, public safety and resilience. In addition, we worked hard to ensure that the Report Card is an easy-to-understand document.”
After collecting the data and assigning grades to each criterion, the team weighted each criterion with respect to the others. The committee then corroborated the grades with commentary and references, and compiled the results into a final composite grade.
“According to the Report Card, some of our infrastructure is performing at an average or better-than-average level. However, roads and bridges—two vital sectors of our state infrastructure—are the most vulnerable, as demonstrated by their respective grades of D and D+,” Davis said.
The committee also made recommendations, where applicable, to advise key decision-makers on how to sustain positive grades and improve poor ones. The Report Card was released to the public during an ASCE press conference held in Baton Rouge, La., earlier this year.