The annual Infraday West conference brought hundreds of construction industry professionals, scores of expert speakers, and a host of big name sponsors to the Intercontinental Hotel in Downtown Los Angeles on December 4 to discuss important issues facing transportation and infrastructure markets.

Attending the forum were developers of some of the most important transportation and infrastructure projects currently being developed in California. This included senior infrastructure executives, as well as local, state and federal authorities along with top financiers, consultants, constructors, engineers and technology innovators.

One of the first panel discussions of the day highlighted Los Angeles Infrastructure projects. LA is investing in new infrastructure that will expand its transit system, pursue sustainability and make it easier for the public to move around. The panel featured infrastructure executives across disciplines, talking about new and exciting developments in the city. Moderated by Anna Hermelin, transport & infrastructure partner with Ashurst, the forum featured directors and engineers from many of LA’s infrastructure departments.

Panel topics included how the city is in the process of repaving thousands of roads, restoring sidewalks, modernizing LAX and the Port, expanding the public transit system, and rebuilding the 6th Street Viaduct.

Another interesting session was titled “Water Infrastructure: Energy Efficiency – Resource Recovery.” The discussion was moderated by Scott Esposito, principle technical solutions, Oracle Construction & Engineering. The panelists were Chris Lehman, water resource recovery facility supervisor, City of San Luis Obispo; John Bednarski, chief engineer, Metropolitan Water District of Southern California; Mark Daniel, director of operations, Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District; Ray Leftwich, public works director, city engineer, City of Lincoln Public Works Department; and Yazdan Emrani, director of public works, City of Glendale.

The forum covered how California, with a population of more than 40 million and vast acres of agricultural land, depends upon major capital investment in infrastructure projects transporting water and energy. Topics included the importance of investing in “green infrastructure,” water sustainability and flood management; and the costs of repairing aging water pipes.

Emrani said a recent EPA report found that $51 billion needs to be spent over the next 20 years to update California’s water systems, with much of it required on aging water pipes. Emrani said 150 miles out of the 1,200 miles of San Francisco water mains are more than 100-years-old; 10 percent of San Diego’s 3,000 miles of water main pipes are cast iron and almost 100-year-old; and 28 percent of Los Angeles’ 7,000 miles of water mains were built before 1938.

“The life cycle of a pipe is no more than 50 or 60 years and many of these pipes are performing way beyond their original design,” he said. “When you look throughout the state, we have all these old pipes that are ticking time bombs ready to break. And they don’t break between 8 am and 5pm; they break at 2am or on Christmas Eve and Super Bowl Sunday.”

He said it’s usually about five to 15 times more expensive to repair water mains on an emergency basis as opposed to properly planning the fix and sending it out to bid and doing the construction.

At the “Achieving a Digital Lifecycle to Deliver your Capital Projects” presentation, Aurigo’s chief technology officer Kevin Koenig talked about managing capital infrastructure delivery with the latest software technology. As owners and contractors attempt to efficiently move construction data from planning to design to construction, they are learning that there are a number of new software products around that help manage the different phases of their construction lifecycle.

In his position at Aurigo, Koenig has helped his company become a leading capital projects technology company. Aurigo, which was an Infraday West sponsor, says its Aurigo Masterworks Cloud suite software is helping manage over $300 billion in state and local PUM (projects under management) in North America.

Other panel topics at Infrday West included keys to successful project delivery; building social venues like stadiums and universities; the future of infrastructure; and the latest transportation technologies.