Friday, May 19th marked the end of National Infrastructure Week 2017. This year, Utah celebrated in a big way by hosting Time to Build Utah at the Salt Lake Chamber, and Speaker Greg Hughes participated on a panel at the national event in Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Chamber.

The Chamber proudly hosted business and community leaders with a keen interest in the future of infrastructure in Utah to hear from a panel of experts in water, power and transportation infrastructure. The panelists (pictured below) shared some of their organization’s goals and answered a series of questions on how we will need to prepare our infrastructure for the coming population changes.

From left to right: Todd Provost- Vice President of  Operations and Capital, Utah Transit Authority, Tage Flint- CEO, Weber Basin Water Conservancy District, Andrew Gruber- Executive Director, Wasatch Front Regional Council, Carlos Braceras-Executive Director, Utah Department of Transportation and Chad Teply- Vice President of Strategy and Development Rocky Mountain Power

There was a consensus among the panelists that how we think and plan for the next 20 years will have to change to meet the fastest growing population in the nation, disruptive technology and significant financial demands.

For example, Chad Teply of Rocky Mountain Power anticipates their planning to include a greater mix of renewables. Part of their planning will also require asking how existing infrastructure can be utilized as the system load continues to grow.

Carlos Braceras of the Utah Department of Transportation also outlined a few changes he sees coming for how they provide service. First, as their fleet moves toward electrification and more consumers choose this option, transportation funding exclusively through the fuel tax will need to be reevaluated. Planning for the future of our roads will also need foresight to prepare for autonomous vehicles on roadways.

Todd Provost of Utah Transit Authority concurred Braceras’ message, noting that we will also need to consider that our population is aging and will need to accommodate by providing a variety of mobility options for people to move throughout the valley safely. With regard to water,

Tage Flint of the Weber Basin Water Conservancy District sees this growing population coming with changes in preferences, lending to a more water conscious Utah. The future of water infrastructure will mean planning for safe infrastructure in floodplains and collaboration between ratepayers and the state to fund this infrastructure.

The Salt Lake Chamber has more than 8,000 members representing Utah’s businesses , so the final question asked these panelists to describe what public and private sector collaboration would look like. For Braceras and Provost, delivering their services is not possible without partners in construction and engineering firms. Braceras also implored businesses in the room to ask themselves what transportation means to the success of their business and the economy. Teply encourages businesses to utilize Rocky Mountain Power’s programs to help them achieve their sustainability goals and improve efficiency.  Flint would ask that businesses incorporate conservation into their business and to get your organization involved in the Chamber’s programming to further engage in these topics.

Each year, the Salt Lake Chamber and Utah Transportation Coalition participate in National Infrastructure Week to encourage our membership to not only celebrate what high-quality infrastructure we do have, but acknowledge that continued collaboration will only make it better.

See ABC4Utah’s feature on Time to Build Utah here.

The Utah Transportation Coalition is a group of business and civic leaders working together to protect Utah’s environment, improve the economy and preserve our quality of life through strategic transportation investments. The Coalition is an established, long-term organization advocating specifically for responsible transportation investment to keep Utah’s economy moving.