The Power of Design: Infrastructure Savings of $720 Billion

Infrastructure in the United States is in disrepair. In 2013, the American Society of Civil Engineers graded the country’s infrastructure as D+ and estimated $3.6 trillion needed to be invested by 2020. How can a marketing mindset help governments address this problem? Better design for infrastructure is one possibility. 

For example, governments often custom design bridges and then hand-built structures site. That process requires months or years of time and lots of money.

Switching the design process to use more standardized designs and components saves time and money. Bridge components can be mass produced in controlled environments, instead of manufactured on-site. This lowers design costs, increases quality, allows for continuous improvement, and reduces on-site construction time.

Using prefab modules drives down construction time from months or years down to a few weeks. The main savings come when crews don’t need to wait for custom, on-site concrete work to harden before moving to the next phase of construction. Governments can save 20 percent due to reduced design work, re-use of tools and processes, and buying in bulk.

Prefabricated Infrastructure Saves Time and Money

A Marketplace story explains that Pennsylvania is using this new approach to bridge design and construction. State officials say that they’ll build 558 bridges in 3.5 years, instead of 8-12 years, by using prefabrication.

Pennsylvania isn’t the only state taking this approach. Missouri recently fixed or replaced 800 bridges in 3.5 years using prefabrication.

If better design for infrastructure can shrink 10 year schedules to five and save 20 percent of costs, then we could make the 2020 deadline from the American Society of Civil Engineers and save $720 billion in the process.


  1. […] I believe that private sector approaches help speed projects and control costs. In particular, prefabrication, digital services, and lean processes can help the public sector efficiently repair and replace our […]

  2. […] to do, and probably little money to do it with, why build quality infrastructure? If utilitarian, prefabricated, dead-after-depreciation stuff is good enough for now, shouldn’t we focus on […]


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