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Collins, Whitehouse Introduce Bipartisan Legislation to Spur Use of Innovative Materials in Rebuilding American Infrastructure

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Susan Collins and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) introduced the Innovative Materials for America’s Growth and Infrastructure Newly Expanded (IMAGINE) Act to encourage research and deployment of innovative construction materials in transportation and water infrastructure projects nationwide. 

“Leveraging the skills of engineers in Maine and across the country, the IMAGINE Act would support innovative research of construction materials and techniques to help revitalize our nation's manufacturing and transportation infrastructure,” said Senator Collins. “By investing in cutting-edge materials and methods, like those being pioneered at the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center, we can extend the lifespan of critical public works, improve their performance, increase construction efficiency, and stimulate job creation.”

“We came together on a bipartisan basis to make historic investments in our nation’s infrastructure.  To maximize those efforts, we need to use the most resilient, cost-effective composite materials available to rebuild our roads, bridges and water systems,” said Senator Whitehouse. “Our bipartisan legislation will foster innovation and save taxpayers money along the way.

“The IMAGINE Act will be critical to maintaining U.S. technological leadership in the advanced materials space, and the stakes are very high.  New construction is expected to be worth nearly $2 trillion in the U.S. annually, and the construction industry is worth more than 10% of the world GDP,” said Dr. Habib J. Dagher, Executive Director of the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine.  “Developing construction materials that are environmentally friendly, lighter, faster to install, and that will last longer will create jobs, save taxpayer dollars, and improve the safety of the traveling public.  Can we IMAGINE bridges that can be built in days using materials that last decades with little maintenance?  We applaud Senator Collins and her colleagues for challenging America's best engineers and scientists to IMAGINE."

The IMAGINE Act would create a task force to examine standards and methods used to assess the federal government’s approval of materials for infrastructure projects.  It would promote research into new materials and building techniques, and spur federal investment in bridge and water infrastructure projects that utilize innovative materials, prioritizing coastal and rural projects.

One provision of the bill would call on the Secretary of Transportation to form innovative materials hubs throughout the country to continue to drive research into the development of innovative materials for use in infrastructure projects.  The legislation was inspired by the success of communities of materials manufacturers – like advanced composites makers at the Advanced Structures and Composites Center at the University of Maine and the Institute for Advanced Composites Manufacturing Innovation in Knoxville, Tennessee – that have leveraged their innovations and expertise to grow their industry.

The IMAGINE Act is endorsed by the American Composites Manufacturers Association and the American Society of Civil Engineers.

A summary of the bill can be read here; complete bill text can be read here.