Orange County Branch Newsletter
The “I” Word
By Josue Vaglienty, P.E.
ASCE is joining over 250 other organizations and affiliates of InfrastructureWeek.org this week in huge effort to reach out to legislators and the public at large to promote Infrastructure Week (May 15-19, 2017). The US Chamber of Commerce is also promoting Infrastructure Week (#TimeToBuild) and the importance of building and maintaining the country’s critical infrastructure. The emphasis is on the benefits of improved infrastructure: enhancing trade and a better business environment, safer means of transport, and providing more reliability for all users. There’s no question it is an important topic. The difficult part is finding the right solution to securing dedicated long-term funding for America.
On a smaller scale, California recently approved the 2017 Road Repair and Accountability Act to provide over $52 billion in transportation funding over the next 10 years. Prior to its passing, ASCE Region 9 held its annual Infrastructure Symposium at Discovery Center in Los Angeles this past March 31 st . No one in the audience was certain that the bill would pass, but there were many voices in favor of its passage. Three of those voices came from local civic leaders City of Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, former City of LA Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, and City of Inglewood Mayor James Butts, Jr. They each talked about the value of infrastructure as it pertained to their own city. In addition, they each emphasized the need to use political willpower to support new infrastructure projects that catered to fresh ideas for building innovation, new or creative forms of financing, and obtaining buy-in from the local community.
ASCE OC will continue to convey the message regarding the importance of infrastructure to our state and national legislators as well as the public. In addition to being a Key Contact for ASCE, some of our members will be joining others from around the state to participate in the annual Region 9 Legislative Fly-In to Sacramento. For many, it will be their first time talking to their State Assemblyperson or State Senator. The intent is advocate with our own voices, our own experiences, and our own knowledge about infrastructure to civic leaders that can then broadcast a wider message about infrastructure. All ASCE members attending the Fly-In are being encouraged to share their experiences using the hashtag #ASCER9FLYIN. Twenty years ago, very few legislators were talking about the “I” word – Infrastructure. I bet many of them couldn’t even spell it! Fast forward to today, and I’m encouraged that the discussion is taking place. The importance of a reliable energy grid, secure airports and seaports, safe drinking water, and reliable means of transportation is now very much in the public’s mind. Funding for infrastructure is still going to be debated for years to come. There are no easy answers, but at least there is a conversation. We, as ASCE, need to be part of that conversation.