Low-hanging Fruit for Your Stimulus Basket

Ever since our city first became aware of the possibility of a federal stimulus package focusing on public works, we have been busy as bees finding “shovel-ready” projects to submit for funding. Because I realize efforts like ours are now going on all over the U.S., I thought it might be helpful to post some example projects local governments could submit that require minimal planning and design:

Purchase/produce and replace street signs throughout a community or region – everyone knows the federal government recently passed legislation that requires all of us to upgrade our street signs by a specific date to meet new reflectivity regulations. Although we do have several years in order to comply, this is an expensive and unfunded mandate, so why not use the monies from the stimulus package to purchase or produce and install your signs. This is a relatively easy project to put together for bidding. Local government can even take advantage of existing state joint purchasing programs and bid out only the installation. This idea puts to work all the suppliers and manufacturers who make sign materials as well as the laborers who will install the signs.

Purchase, install, and implement a water leak detection service – Over the last few years, companies have developed leak-detection technology that involves placing a small device on the “city-side” of a customer’s water service lines. The device listens to the sounds in the water mains and reports the possibility of water leaks back to the provider. Leak Detection Report

Unfortunately for our city (from a funding view), we have already set up a system like this. But for those who have not, they would get started by simply contacting a company that provides this technology to get a proposed price. The actual work involves the set-up of a fixed network and installation of data recorders/transmitters. A leak detection project puts to work those who manufacture/supply the recorders/transmitters, electricians, and plumbers. In addition the end result of this project is the reduction of water loss.

Purchase and install a fixed-network metering project
– while you’re in the process of setting up a fixed network to read your leak detection units, why not think about installing either new meters (if needed) or a metering data collection system that reads meters on a 24/7 basis. Again, little planning and design. Simply contact the metering/fixed network companies and get your pricing in order. Like the leak detection system, this project puts to work the companies that manufacture/supply the units along with employing plumbers to install meters. Plus this system can also help decrease water loss.

The important thing to remember as we up together our lists is that not every worthwhile project has to involve significant engineering or even shovels to put people to work. If anyone has thought of any other easy-to-implement ideas, please post them in a comment and help your fellow, public works brethren. And if you don’t work for local government, think about passing along the ideas to your local officials. Remember in the end, it is about putting people all across America to work and improving our public works assets.

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