#TimeToBuild – Advocacy’s Role in Funding American Infrastructure
May 19, 2017
Teresa Stepic, Senior Vice President, Client Relations
This week, the infrastructure and transportation communities come together to raise awareness of American infrastructure and the critical role it plays in our economy and our quality of life. It marks both Infrastructure Week—an annual event highlighting the need to invest in American infrastructure—as well as National Transportation Week—a time we reflect on the historical importance of America’s transportation infrastructure.
The theme for this year’s Infrastructure Week is #TimeToBuild—a reflection of our infrastructure report card. Every four years, the American Society of Civil Engineers issues a “Report Card for America’s Infrastructure”—an assessment of the condition and performance of American infrastructure based on its physical condition and required investments for improvement. Its 2017 grade: D+.
The 2016 Presidential Election saw the issue of funding for America’s crumbling infrastructure, including our bridges, highways, and public transportation systems, command national headlines. A recent poll commissioned by the Value of Water Campaign for Infrastructure Week found that more Americans want federal action on infrastructure than any other issue—including tax reform, healthcare reform, and defense spending.
As President Trump finalizes his $1T infrastructure plan that promises to cut regulatory red tape to get projects started quickly and leverage private capital through public-private partnerships, the advocacy challenge will become effectively communicating how America’s infrastructure is directly tied to our economy, millions of American jobs, and our quality of life. Advocacy will also play an important role in communicating why federal investment in infrastructure is needed and why there is no “silver bullet” solution to bringing our infrastructure up to date.
Advocates for modernizing America’s transportation infrastructure will need to communicate their support for our country’s ability to transport goods and services that keep our economy running, to get American workers to and from work safely, and to ensure we live in multi-modal communities that have convenient access to important community pillars, including schools, parks, healthcare facilities, restaurants, grocery stores, movie theaters, and community centers.
While re-investing in American infrastructure is an issue with broad bipartisan support, the debate will center on how to pay for it. The likelihood is that there will be no singular funding solution, but rather Congress will need to bring together an array of solutions that balance the needs of diverse industries, geographies, and communities of all sizes. Smart policy decisions will facilitate innovation and opportunity, paired with vested interests, to keep America running.
Federal funding is a necessary part of the funding solution, which has historically helped in bringing infrastructure upgrades to more underserved, rural communities—as evidenced by our nation’s universal telephone access program and in essential air service (EAS) for rural airports that have low-volume but nonetheless critical air traffic for the businesses and individuals in those communities.
Another critical puzzle piece will be public-private partnerships (PPPs), which are a valuable funding source that help drive long-term growth. When infrastructure businesses come together and work with government to invest in and bring opportunities to our communities, America’s economy is in a stronger position.
DDC serves as a long-time partner to the transportation industry and to companies large and small that support critical funding for American infrastructure. This week we celebrate both Infrastructure Week and National Transportation Week, and we look forward to the upcoming debate surrounding a comprehensive infrastructure bill and the critical role advocacy will play in determining the path forward.
If you’re interested in learning more or seeing some of the work that DDC is doing in the transportation infrastructure space, give us a call.