Game changer: Underfunded infrastructure maintenance

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Larry Koehle, PE, MPA, PWLF, has a 46-year career of service, including serving as commissioner of public works for the City of Brampton, Ontario, from which he retired in 2000. He is currently vice president with ASI Technologies, an information-technology professional services firm. In addition, Koehle and his wife created L&N Koehle Consulting Services to provide government affairs and project management assistance. He also served as APWA National President in 2009 – 2010. Photo: APWA

LARRY KOEHLE, PE, MPA, PWLF

VICE PRESIDENT, ASI TECHNOLOGIES
BRAMPTON, ONTARIO, CANADA

You do an amazing job of maintaining infrastructure to the best degree possible with the available resources, says Larry Koehle, but eventually you'll need nationwide support to keep public assets safe and serviceable.

“For some time, experts have warned of a deficit between the state of our infrastructure and what's required — the so-called ‘infrastructure gap',” he says. “A deficit in the billions of dollars sounds staggering, but it's not resonating on a personal level with the public. We risk becoming numb to the real meaning behind these numbers.”

Numbing leads to underinvestment, which further exacerbates the deficit.

“The stimulus directed some funding to repair and rehabilitation, but we need a commitment to infrastructure, which then promotes stronger economic growth and guarantees that longer-term funding will be available,” says Koehler. “We must commit ourselves to thinking more holistically about infrastructure and ensuring that what we build will be sustainable.”