President’s Address – Past & Future
Dear ASCE Northwest Branch Members:
As a tumultuous election season draws to a close, most of us who depend on a vibrant infrastructure program were at least marginally influenced by the candidate who we felt would best identify and execute a robust program while in office. Typical of the transition periods between Washington election cycles, we now are in the waiting process to hear about how the new political regime will manage various aspects of policy. Regardless of whether your particular candidate won or lost, as members of ASCE we recognize that every family, every community, and every business needs a solid infrastructure to thrive. Therefore, with each new administration the infrastructure discussion is of the utmost importance and one in which partisan support can be closed aligned.
Some people who are removed from the infrastructure discussion may not recognize this fact, but ASCE has a powerful voice around state, local, and federal governments. Every four years, for example, ASCE produces a widely read and tremendously important report on the status of the US infrastructure. (http://www.infrastructurereportcard.org/) Known as the ASCE Report Card for American’s Infrastructure, ratings are produced by the report and follow an alphabetical grading system similar to what is seen in academic report cards. An Advisory Council of ASCE members assigns the grades according to the following eight criteria: capacity, condition, funding, future need, operation and maintenance, public safety, resilience, and innovation. Since 1998, the grades have been near failing, averaging only Ds, due to delayed maintenance and underinvestment across most categories. Individual ratings in Hazardous Waste, Levees, Wastewater, Bridges, Ports, Rails, Roads, etc. hover around the D+ to C- range quite consistently. The latest report estimates that a total of $3.6 trillion dollars is necessary to invest by the year 2020 or the degradation may suddenly become a drag on the economy.
As members of ASCE, we have a great opportunity and platform for our singular voices to collectively draw attention to infrastructure needs. Not only as individuals who rely on a sound infrastructure but as engineers who uniquely recognize the consequences of failing infrastructure, I believe we have the responsibility to ensure our elected officials understand equally. ASCE offers many ways to do this whether you want to get involved locally or even nationally. Please contact one of us on the board to learn more about how to actively advocate on behalf of our infrastructures needs. Having just gone through an election cycle, doing this now is more important than ever!
Northwest Branch Past President
Featured in Newsletter No. 130, November 25th, 2016
*As always, the views expressed in the president’s message are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the official positions of ASCE.