The International Information Center for Structural Engineers

Illinois Governor Pat Quinn unveiled his six-year, $8.6 billion infrastructure plan to improve roads and bridges throughout the state on Wednesday.  The six-year program allocates $5.82 billion for state highway improvements and $2.77 billion for local transportation. The Governor believes that his plan will “create jobs and build a 21st century infrastructure that will drive Illinois’ economy forward.”

The potential high-speed rail line between Dallas and Houston, Texas received a major political endorsement last week from the Mayors of Houston, Dallas, and Forth Worth. The three mayors expressed their support for the proposed bullet train that would take 90 minutes to travel between the two cities. Although Texas Central Railway, a private, for-profit Texas company, will pay for the entire project with private funds and not rely on government subsidies, government cooperation and innovation throughout the planning phase could go a long way towards making the train line successful.

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Architect Zaha Hadid chose 1000 Museum Tower in Miami, Florida to be the first building she designed in the United States. The 62-story, 706-foot structure will be a super-luxury condominium that will sell units for $5 to $15 million. The unique exterior design combined with the open space in each unit has many Miami residents wishing they could move into the building. Construction will break ground in June.

The California High-Speed Rail Authority has invited five companies to submit bids for the second contract to build part of the state’s high-speed rail line. The winning bidder will be expected to complete a 65-mile stretch of the line from southern Fresno to the Tulare-Kern county line. The Request for Proposal issued Thursday for Construction Package 2-3 (CP 2-3) states that each company’s proposal must be submitted by September 2 of this year. The California High-Speed Rail Authority is using a design-build contract for the project and will chose the winning bid in November.

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The Pulaski Skyway Bridge rehabilitation project will begin on April 12, and some New York and New Jersey Residents are already dubbing it “carmaggedon.” Once construction begins, 34,000 of the 74,000 cars that use the bridge to travel between Newark, Newark Liberty Airport, Jersey City, and New York will need to find alternate routes for their commute for the next two years. While the New Jersey Department of Transportation will increase bus and train services and recommend alternate routes, they do say these options will not eliminate congestion for commuters. The rehabilitation project will extend the life of the 82-year-old bridge by another 75 years.

The 550-foot tall High Roller Wheel opened near the strip in Las Vegas, Nevada on Monday after nearly three years of planning and construction. The Ferris wheel is nine feet taller than the Singapore Flyer that had held the title as world’s tallest observation wheel since 2008. Tourists can purchase tickets for one revolution around the wheel, a 30-minute ride, for $24.95 during the day and $35.95 at night. 

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As Africa continues to develop, one of the main challenges it still faces, is its shortage of completed infrastructure projects. In many cases public funding alone cannot provide the resources needed to develop African countries’ infrastructure. Public budgets are spread too thin due to the need to develop other aspects of these countries as well as build roads and bridges. According to a 2010 report issued by the World Bank, the continent’s inadequate transportation, power, and communication systems are causing sub-Saharan African economic growth to decrease by two percentage points each year. In addition to the growth decrease, poor infrastructure can decrease business productivity by 40 percent annually. Elizabeth Uwaifo, the Director of Africa Agribusiness Knowledge Centers and a Partner at international business law firm Fasken Martineau, is calling for the use of Public Private Partnerships (PPP) to bridge the funding gaps in sub-Saharan Africa and improve the continent’s physical infrastructure.