Monday, 28 July 2008
At the ASCE Board of Directors Meeting on July 21 in Kansas City, we had the pleasure of hearing a presentation by Larry Frevert, P.E., president of the American Public Works Association.
Frevert's presentation focused on concerns related to our rapidly deteriorating infrastructure and its impact on the quality of life. He praised ASCE for our efforts, including our Report Card and our emphasis on infrastructure investment. Frevert directed our attention to America 2050, a committee created by the Regional Plan Association representing New York, New Jersey and Connecticut. He believes its approach is very much on the right track, and strongly recommended that we learn more about the committee by visiting its Web site, america2050.org.
America 2050 recognizes that there is a global threat to America's economic prosperity. We are falling behind our competitors who have long-range strategies, whereas we lack a vision. The America 2050 strategy outlines public and private policies and investments to accommodate growth in the 21st Century. If followed, the America 2050 strategy will produce five major outcomes:
· A national framework for prosperity, growth and competitiveness.
· A modern multi-modal transportation system.
· Protection of coastal and environmental areas.
· Opportunity -- economically and socially -- for all society.
· Globally competitive mega-regions within the United States.
America 2050 recently sponsored a "Rebuilding and Renewing America" forum. Speakers included Robert Yaro, president of the Regional Plan Association; Terence O'Sullivan, president, Labor's International Unions of North America; Ed Rendell, governor of Pennsylvania; and U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer of Oregon. One of the panels focused on transportation. Several comments focused on the public's understanding of what a "vibrant rail system could accomplish in the country and the fact that ideas for a system are out there, but it is a question of how and who will bring this vision together."
The closing keynote speaker was Jonathan Rose, president of Jonathan Rose Development Companies. He urged Americans to reconsider their core values and stop building soulless communities around retail. Moreover, the cheapest housing is often the furthest from job opportunities, thus condemning our lowest income residents to spend much of their incomes commuting to their jobs.
A report on this forum is available at the America 2050 Web site. I urge all of you to review it. I am sure that it will be part of the framework for the development of our 2009 Infrastructure Report Card.