ASCE members and leadership were out in force during the sixth annual Infrastructure Week, held this year from May 14-21. Sections, branches, and members convened events, organized state legislative drive-ins, and participated in panels around the country. The national week of events, media coverage, education and issue advocacy, is designed to elevate infrastructure as a critical issue impacting America’s economy, society, security, and future. ASCE is a member of the Infrastructure Week steering committee.
ASCE Leads at Marquee Events
ASCE President Kristina Swallow, P.E., ENV SP, F.ASCE, offered opening remarks at the West Coast Infrastructure Week kickoff, where she was joined by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and a number of high-profile decisionmakers and business leaders. Meanwhile, ASCE Executive Director Tom Smith moderated a panel on rural infrastructure at the East Coast Infrastructure Week kickoff. Past-President Norma Jean Mattei, Ph.D., P.E., F.SEI, M.COPRI, F.ASCE hosted the Southeast Infrastructure Summit in New Orleans, Louisiana, where regional leaders gathered to discuss transportation, energy, economic development, and freight along the Gulf Coast and Mississippi Corridor. Notable speakers at the Southeast Summit included John Bel Edwards, Governor of Louisiana, and the Honorable LaToya Cantrell, Mayor of New Orleans. Also hitting the road, ASCE’s Senior Managing Director Casey Dinges who provided and overview of the Report Card for private equity and financial institutions at InfraDay in New York City, while Managing Director Brian Pallasch participated in a number of panels during the week, including one on resiliency with Senator Jack Reed (D-RI).
Texas Doubles Down on Infrastructure Week
On Wednesday, the Dallas Branch hosted “North Texas and the Infrastructure Report Card,” which featured, among other participants, ASCE President-elect Robin Kemper P.E., LEED AP, F.SEI, F.ASCE. Panelists discussed how to make progress on the 2017 Texas Report Card recommendations to raise the grades, and Robin offered a national perspective on the nexus between state and federal activity. Later in the week, the Texas Section convened “Hurricane Harvey Recovery & Resiliency: The Future of Houston Area Stormwater Infrastructure.” The morning included a discussion of resiliency plans post-Harvey and featured representatives from Harris County Flood Control District, Texas Water Development Board, FEMA, and the City of Houston. Director of Houston Public Works and ASCE Board of Direction Member Carol Haddock, P.E., M.ASCE participated on the Texas Section’s panel.
Advocacy Spotlight on Alaska
To coincide with Infrastructure Week, the ASCE Alaska Section unveiled a new video to educate the public on Alaska’s unique infrastructure needs, as well as to track progress on the recommendations included in the 2017 Report Card for Alaska’s Infrastructure .The video was released in conjunction with a presentation at the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and can be viewed here. Alaska emphasizes in its video that the state’s future is bright, but targeted and strategic investments from all levels of government are needed to maintain existing assets and prepare for the future.
For a summary of some of the Infrastructure Week D.C. events, keep reading.
The State of Autonomous Vehicle Innovation and Infrastructure Resiliency
Square Patton Boggs convened two panels on Tuesday, each looking at a “hot topic” in the infrastructure industry. The first, focused on autonomous vehicles, asked how smart infrastructure can keep pace with rapidly changing innovations. Representative Debbie Dingell (D-MI-12), a leading voice on Capitol Hill when it comes to vehicle legislation, participated on the panel. She was joined by representatives from Transurban, and Autodesk, and NHTSA. Rep. Dingell discussed her efforts to steer the SELF DRIVE Act through Congress, legislation that supports the safe development and deployment of self-driving vehicles. The second panel was focused on resiliency in infrastructure planning, to minimize the impact of disasters, as well as challenges to innovation. The Mayor of Davenport, Iowa Frank Klipsch was on hand to explain how Davenport has built to accommodate the river, by adding parks to its waterfront and designing its ballpark to function even during severe flooding.
Bipartisan Policy Center Convenes “Putting P3s to Work In the U.S.”
The Bipartisan Policy Center celebrated Infrastructure Week by organizing a public-private partnership conversation. Speakers included Australian Ambassador to the U.S. Joe Hockey, as well as representatives from BMO Capital Markets, Prince George’s County and Bechtel. Prince George’s County is home to an innovative stormwater P3, which is currently delivering results, including a more educated and sophisticated local workforce. To watch a recording of the conversation, click here.
Smart Cities/Smart States 2018 Capitol Hill Roundtable
On Tuesday, the Intelligent Transportation Society of America hosted a Smart Cities and Smart States Roundtable. Finch Fulton, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy at the U.S. Department of Transportation, kicked off the event. Panelists included Rebecca Hunter of Crown Castle, Steve Ingracia from the Nebraska Department of Transportation, and Wes Maurer from the Colorado Department of Transportation. Panelists commented on intelligent transportation technologies in both rural and urban areas and how cities and states can prepare infrastructure systems for a future that includes automation.
The Cost of Inaction: A Conversation on U.S. Infrastructure
On Thursday, Business Roundtable brought together leaders in business, government, labor, and infrastructure for a conversation on the importance of investment in infrastructure and the consequences of inaction. Participants in the roundtable included Jamie Dimon, Business Roundtable Chairman and CEO and Chairman of JPMorgan Chase & Co.; Brendan Bechtel, Chairman and CEO of Bechtel; Senator Tom Carper (D-DE); Chuck Todd, NBC Meet the Press; and others.