As summer approaches, the American Concrete Pavement Association is urging voters throughout the transportation community to be unrelenting in urging Congress to enact an adequately funded transportation bill.
"This summer is a pivotal time for our industry to remind our federal elected officials of the importance and urgency of finding solutions to the dire situation the construction industry and our highways are facing," says Gerald F. Voigt, P.E., President and CEO of the American Concrete Pavement Association.
"This is not the time to slow the pace; instead, we need to continue to urge Congress to do the right thing by making highways and other elements of our surface transportation system a top priority," he says.
Voigt says this is especially important now for several reasons, including:
- The nations economy continues to falter, and amid the continuing economic uncertainty, unemployment remains at a critical state in the construction industry. Passage of the highway bill would create and sustain well-paying, long-term jobs for people who want to work and need to work.
- Summertime brings school recesses, vacation schedules, and other reasons for large groups of people to visit Washington, D.C. This means elected officials are hearing from many special interests, and because of that, we need to ensure that transportation issues do not get lost in the "hue and cry" of other issues.
- August is traditionally the time when Senators and Representatives return to their home states and districts, and as such, this presents voters with more opportunities to have direct contact with elected officials at town-hall meetings, fundraising events, and other activities.
- August 10 marks the sixth anniversary of the signing of the most recent highway bill, which since its expiration, has been extended seven times. Extensions, says Voigt, make it difficult, if not impossible, for businesses to invest in the future, and with no clear timeline for the next transportation bill, will continue to jeopardize the economic vitality of companies.
- Retail fuel prices are rising at an alarming rate, and with widespread speculation that motorists will be paying $5/gallon gasoline, motorists can scarcely afford to waste fuel because of the inefficiency and disrepair of our nation's highways.
Take a Stand
"Talk to your neighbors, your colleagues, your employees and everyone you know who has the power of the vote, and urge them to take a stand, and to tell their elected officials that they demand unselfish and discerning leadership, and the courage to do what is right for this country," Voigt says. "Tell them to make the tough call by finding viable, sustainable solutions to find and invest the funds to repair and preserve the nation's highways.
Voigt adds that every member of the transportation community has the power of the vote, as well as the right to hold elected officials accountable for their actions & and inaction.
"Our ability to move people and goods is critical to this nation," Voigt says. "Our federal government has underinvested in our nation's transportation infrastructure for years, and as a result, we are falling further behind in the global marketplace. China, India, and other developing nations understand the value of infrastructure development and the critical link between infrastructure, commerce, personal mobility, and safety. The question we should all be asking is, "Why are those issues any less important in the United States than in other nations?"
"It is disingenuous for anyone to suggest that we can solve this problem without increasing funding. Accounting for inflation, we invest less in our infrastructure today than we did in 1975. This is unacceptable, and for every day we put off a solution, we burden our children and those who come after us," Voigt says.
"Together, we need to make this the summer of action, and not just another season of inaction," Voigt says. Voigt articulated many of these points as one of the speakers at the recent "Rally for Roads," in Washington, D.C.