InfraGuide: A network of best-practice solutions

Sylvain Boudreau
Technical Manager
National Research Council of Canada
Ottawa, Ontario
Speaker, 2005 APWA Congress

I have been involved with InfraGuide since 1998 and have witnessed its growing success in helping municipalities stop reinventing the wheel of municipal infrastructure. In my opinion there is no reason why municipalities should fail at technical initiatives such as crack sealing or pipe replacement while neighbouring municipalities are successful at the same initiatives. This is where InfraGuide, the National Guide to Sustainable Municipal Infrastructure, excels with state-of-the-art documents highlighting innovations in municipal infrastructure and paving a viable and sustainable way forward for North American municipalities.

Over the course of the last four years, I have presented InfraGuide, a joint project between the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) and the National Research Council (NRC) and funded under the Infrastructure Canada Program, at the annual APWA Congress. I look back now and clearly see a change in our messaging from "We will be developing tools and best practices" to "We have developed best practices and a fantastic stakeholder network, and municipalities are making use of what we have done." I hope this success continues and I hope to keep APWA members up-to-speed on all of InfraGuide's exciting new projects.

InfraGuide is here to help municipalities make tough infrastructure investment decisions, whether around managing assets, coordinating infrastructure works, or reducing leakage in potable water distribution systems. InfraGuide has created a road map to the best available infrastructure solutions for all municipalities. Through the InfraGuide Network of Excellence, made up of top professionals, InfraGuide is providing valuable tools and strategies for municipalities to build essential capacity for long-term sustainability.

InfraGuide has produced over 50 best practices in its target areas: Decision Making and Investment Planning, Potable Water, Stormwater and Wastewater, Municipal Roads and Sidewalks, Environmental Protocols, and Transit best practices. Ranging from "Planning and Defining Municipal Infrastructure Needs" to "Speed and Quality of Linear System Repairs," the best practices have been widely and successfully used across Canada.

InfraGuide has also gained significant recognition with over 70 endorsements from Canadian municipalities, 20 professional associations, and considerable international renown. InfraGuide has also compiled several case studies highlighting successful applications of its best practices that have saved Canadian municipalities millions of dollars. Among them, the Halifax Regional Water Commission, using a holistic approach found in various InfraGuide best practices, has saved millions of dollars in water distribution system leakage reduction. The City of London has also successfully applied an InfraGuide best practice, "Coordinating Infrastructure Works," resulting in several positive steps towards a more effective infrastructure program. Other cities across Canada are using InfraGuide to bring newly-hired engineers up-to-speed and educated on the latest in sustainable infrastructure.

InfraGuide, as one of Canada's leaders in innovations and best practices, has helped the New York City Department of Design and Construction review their latest best practice for the public right-of-way. The document entitled High Performance Infrastructure Guidelines was peer-reviewed through InfraGuide's vast Canadian stakeholder network. The outcome was a better document that considers a true North American experience.

InfraGuide releases anticipated best practice on sustainable transit
Canadian cities are constantly growing and many have turned to road and highway expansion in an attempt to meet current congestion problems. But meeting future transportation needs through road expansion alone is not a sustainable option. Buses and streetcars need to be protected from worsening traffic and given priority on roads through transit priority systems, in order to decrease the reliance on single-occupancy automobiles.

Creating a transit priority for on-street vehicles is one technique that cities can employ to attract ridership and control costs concurrently. In certain cities this would include the use of buses and/or streetcars in lanes dedicated solely to public transportation. This can greatly improve the speed, reliability, and image of the transit service among its users and potential users. Such improvements would attract new riders and increase passenger revenue, while increased driving speeds will result in reduced running times and savings in operational costs.

Creating a transit priority can facilitate the sustainable development objectives of cities, including greenhouse gas emission reductions and improved accessibility. "Strategies for Implementing Transit Priority" describes the approaches Canadian cities have used to successfully implement transit priority and the proactive steps and benefits of these approaches. The document outlines the range of issues faced by implementing authorities; how those issues have been resolved; the approaches used for ongoing management, enforcement, and evaluation; and the benefits and impacts of various types of priority. To obtain a free copy of this best practice, please visit our website this fall: www.infraguide.ca under best practices.

New municipal roads and sidewalks best practice published
InfraGuide is also publishing a best practice entitled "Reuse and Recycling of Road Construction and Maintenance Materials." InfraGuide's latest best practice from the Municipal Roads and Sidewalk Committee provides municipalities with current state-of-the-art methods on the reuse and recycling of road construction and maintenance materials. The best practice provides descriptions of the current methods used by municipal agencies to reuse and recycle asphalt and concrete pavement materials recovered during road construction and maintenance work.

The engineering properties of winter sand and the environmental challenges to successful winter sand recycling and reuse are described in detail in this document. Evaluation protocols and reuse options for asphalt, earth, rock, concrete, and granular materials encountered during trench excavation for installation of underground services and during utility cut restorations are also described. This InfraGuide document confirms that there is a broad range of technically-proven, cost-effective reuse and recycling options available to municipalities, engineers and road managers that conserve natural resources and extend landfill life. The document is available at www.infraguide.ca under best practices.

Asset Management Knowledge Product launched
Also stay tuned for the InfraGuide Knowledge Product on Asset Management. This learning tool puts one of InfraGuide's most popular best practices, "Managing Infrastructure Assets," into an even more practical and easy-to-use format. Municipal managers, administrators, and elected officials from small and large municipalities alike will be able to use this education/training package to learn the importance of asset management. This learning tool is now available on CD and the InfraGuide website.

Join the InfraGuide Network of Excellence
You are invited to join our growing Network of Excellence and our thousands of top professional volunteers. Whether you are an infrastructure professional, senior manager or elected official, expertise is always needed in the form of peer review and volunteer committee members. As a member of the InfraGuide Network of Excellence you will receive advanced notice on publications and learning tools as they come out, be invited to participate in various sessions, and make valuable contacts. Within Canada please call (866) 330-3350, within North America please call (613) 993-3803, or e-mail infraguide@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca for more information.

Mark your APWA Congress calendar for September 14 at 8:30 a.m. This year I will be presenting InfraGuide's latest developments and get a little more technical with some of our best practices.

Sylvain Boudreau can be reached at (613) 990-6641 or Sylvain.Boudreau@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca.