Making the infrastructure grade: a public servant’s perspective

by: Guest Author | 10/27/2014
Estimated Reading time: 3 - 5 minutes

The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago.  The second best time is now.  — Chinese Proverb

454235259A young man walked into his backyard tired from weekend chores.  He thought to himself how wonderful it would be to relax in a hammock under a couple of large shade trees.

Trouble is, his yard contained no trees.  His nap in the hammock was something he daydreamed about regularly since he bought the house years earlier.  Unfortunately, every one of those dreams ended same way.  He got discouraged and went into his house because it would take twenty years to enjoy any trees he planted today.

hammock

The same sentiment exists when it comes to America’s infrastructure.  Currently, the US scores a near failing D+ when it comes to our public works.  While my son would argue that a D+ is still considered a “passing grade”, we can all agree that the situation must be improved.  The problem is that no solution will be immediate and turning an infrastructure score of D+ to a B or better is a really tough challenge.  As a result, it is often easier to be discouraged and maintain the status quo.

I held public office for more than ten years and I experienced this first hand.  What I learned was that no matter how well meaning the elected officials, achieving consensus to solve complex problems was almost impossible.  Differences over money, priorities, scope, timing and resources always plagued our ability to adequately address the issue.  For the record, our challenges were not limited to just the elected officials.  I have also presided over many public meetings where discontent folks would express their disapproval of any major capital improvement project we had before us.  Like most communities, frustration over the inability to effectively deal with complex issues makes maintaining the status quo the path of least resistance.

In an effort to break this never ending cycle, experts from forty-five companies spanning the U.S. infrastructure industry along with their counterparts from local governments and financial, professional, and academic organizations came together to craft a plan to help regain America’s Infrastructure leadership.

MakingGrade

This National Six-point plan is documented in their recently released “Making the Grade Report”.  This report provides the basis for a new approach and a new way of thinking about meeting the challenges of our failing infrastructure and creating a better future. The authors of the report admit that their goal was not to craft the complete solution but rather to provide an initial vision that can serve as the foundation for developing a more comprehensive strategy.  In other words, they chose to plant a tree today.

Check out the full report here and answer our question below.  We’d like to hear from you.

See other posts about this report here:

Infrastructure USA [Follow on Twitter: @InfraUSA]

DC Bridge Park [Follow on Twitter: @DCBridgePark]

GreenBiz.com [Follow Leanne Tobias on Twitter: @Malachite_LLC]

ASCE Government Relations [Follow on Twitter @ASCEGovRel]

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