Candidates, Citizens, and the Media Paying Greater Attention to Infrastructure …

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As we start the new year, there has been an increased national focus on campaigns and elections, from the presidential race, to congressional elections and state elections. Whatever the source of news coverage, you’ve likely noticed the saturation of coverage on debates, speeches, town halls, and Sunday morning news hours that revolve around the GOP primaries and caucuses as they take to the task of choosing a nominee.

ASCE is a 501(c)(3) organization, and does not support or oppose any candidate for political office. Nevertheless, one thing that has become obvious is that there has been an increasing amount of discussion across the spectrum about the need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. It seems that the general public, and increasingly the candidates for local and national offices, understand that infrastructure is a pocketbook issue. More citizens are tired of wasting their time (and money) in congested traffic.  ASCE’s recent water economic study noted a projected  $147 billion in increased costs to businesses by 2020 because of our aging and inadequate water infrastructure.

The following headline appeared in a Politico story last week: “Candidates steer clear of transportation before Iowa” appearances (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0112/71028.html). However, the headline doesn’t tell the full story. While these candidates haven’t been using transportation as a key facet of their platform, they are getting asked about it on the campaign trail. It is this sort of attention from citizens and the news media that encourages current and prospective public officials to bring their plans and ideas about infrastructure into open discussion.

The fact that local citizens are routinely raising concerns about infrastructure needs in town hall meetings and other candidate appearances highlights how ASCE’s hard work on raising the discussion of infrastructure nationwide is paying dividends.  This focus is also the result of an on-going project by Building America’s Future to engage citizens in New Hampshire and South Carolina to talk about infrastructure.

Building America’s Future has created a webpage to compile and aggregate what candidates are saying about infrastructure (http://www.bafuture.org/GopDecision2012). It is intended to serve as a one-stop-shop for readers to review public comments made by candidates and elected officials regarding infrastructure investment and reforms. It houses current and past video, audio, and news articles ranging from transportation to broadband, and everything in between. They’ve also compiled an audit of mentions and policy positions from candidate websites, with an emphasis on educating the public on the range of ideas and suggestions proposed for addressing this important topic.

Regardless of whether the country is in an election year, ASCE believes that it is essential for the needs of America’s infrastructure to remain at the forefront of the conversation. Investing in transportation and infrastructure, especially when it’s needed so badly, is one of the surest ways to shore up an economy. We hope you’ll use our latest research and infographics at www.asce.org/failuretoact, as well as other materials available through ASCE and like organizations, to take part in driving informed conversation about infrastructure issues and to make addressing America’s infrastructure challenges a priority issue in the coming year and beyond.

ASCE is a 501(c)(3) organization, and does not support or oppose any political candidate, party, or platform. The information provided herein is for general information only, and should not be interpreted as an endorsement of any political party or campaign. An informed decision on a legislator’s performance should be based on all aspects of the individual’s work, such as performance on committees and constituent service, not merely the legislator’s votes on a few select issues.

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