By Amanda Duncan, President
“Where we’re going, we don’t need roads” – the iconic statement from Doc Brown in the movie Back to the Future in 1985 gave us kids of the 1980s hope we would be in flying cars by now. While we aren’t quite there yet, alternative fuel transportation is gaining momentum across the country. The renovation of existing traditional fueling centers is taking place to accommodate these new fueling methods, along with construction of new of charging and fueling stations along our highways and embedded in commercial, retail, and office spaces. Ongoing projects to improve our roads and bridges will be on the horizon for years to come as well.
Numerous different contractors will be involved in the infrastructure improvements and upgrades that come with this transition to different fueling systems. General contractors and construction managers will oversee the schedule implementation and monitor the progress of subcontractors. Specialty trades – street/road, water/sewer, electrical, concrete to name a few – will each play an integral role in these projects. Contractors with a specialized focus on service station construction and storage tank removal/installation will be involved with upgrades at traditional fueling facilities. Portable sanitation contractors, who have seen a substantial uptick in business due to the increase in construction over the last several years, will service these jobsites for each project’s duration. Pipeline contractors will be busy with new pipeline construction, along with servicing and maintaining existing lines.
Many facilities will be undergoing upgrades and additions as transportation continues to evolve. New fueling centers (i.e. gas stations/convenience stores) are now elaborate facilities with restaurants and up-to-date technology. Fuel tanks are constantly being removed and replaced and alternative fuel sources are also being added. Stand alone charging stations are being constructed on interstates throughout the country. Charging stations are also becoming part of our retail, commercial, and office building landscape. Additions are built in parking lots and parking decks to make access easy for users.
Pollution exposures exist with any construction project, and infrastructure improvements/upgrades are no exception. While the upgrades do not involve a plutonium fueled DeLorean (most definitely a pollution concern!), environmental hazards are prevalent for both the contractors and facilities involved. Professional liability issues can also be a concern for any contractor performing design or construction management services for these projects. Pollution and professional liability products are readily available to cover these exposures, with a variety of limit options and coverage enhancements to address most any scenario.
We may not be cruising in style like the Jetsons, but technology and transportation are still progressing towards more advanced methods of travel. Our wheels remain on the ground for now; which is good news as these current projects are creating new environmental insurance opportunities for the present.