During this week’s broadcast of the State of the Union address, the President spoke before a Joint session of Congress and talked about infrastructure. Although ASCE’s 2009 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure was not referenced (as it was in last year’s address), you can use his speech as a conversation starter to begin a dialogue in your own community.
The President stated that, “Building this new energy future should be just one part of a broader agenda to repair America’s infrastructure. So much of America needs to be rebuilt. We’ve got crumbling roads and bridges, a power grid that wastes too much energy, an incomplete high-speed broadband network that prevents a small-business owner in rural America from selling her products all over the world.”
There are many ways that you as a civil engineer can promote the profession by speaking out on infrastructure and make a difference at the local level:
• Produce a local infrastructure Report Card
• Organize a lobby day at your state capitol and visit your legislators
• Provide a “training day” on government affairs issues and techniques for your members
• Host a local breakfast with state legislators
• Run a public relations campaign about infrastructure issues in your community
The President reflected back during times of the Great Depression, when America built the Hoover Dam and the Golden Gate Bridge. “After World War II, we connected our states with a system of highways,” recalled the President. “Democratic and Republican administrations invested in great projects that benefited everybody, from the workers who built them to the businesses that still use them today.”
In the next few weeks, the President will sign an executive order clearing away the red tape that slows down too many construction projects. But, of course, Congress needs to fund these projects. The President noted we should, “Take the money we’re no longer spending at war, use half of it to pay down our debt, and use the rest to do some nation-building right here at home.”
So, begin the conversation today! Better yet, turn that conversation into reality. How does your Section or Branch plan to promote civil engineering in 2012? Share your plans in the comment space below! It might just encourage others to do the same.
Manager, State Public Relations