Annual National Infrastructure Week Focuses on Economic Impact

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

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May 14 kicked off the 6th Annual National Infrastructure Week in the U.S.  Each year events are held across the country to emphasize the need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. The event was held at Union Station in Los Angeles kicked off Infrastructure Week on the west coast. 

The keynote speaker for this year’s National Infrastructure Week was Los Angeles Mayor, Eric Garcetti. During his address, Garcetti displayed optimism in regard to the future of our infrastructure, citing that the residents of California have taken initiative in creating change. California residents voted for to approve transportation ballot Measure M, as well as taken voluntary steps to increase funding. In addition, Garcetti noted that infrastructure should be a bi-partisan issue.

The event featured several panels which discussed various facets of infrastructure, including roads, railways, ports, airports, water, energy, and state-of-the-art transportation technologies. Panelists included Martin Powell, Head of Urban Development for Siemens, as well as Gregory A. Kelly, president and chief executive officer of WSP USA.

President of the American Society of Civil Engineers, Kristina L. Swallow, provided welcoming remarks, and reported that their organization had just completed the Infrastructure Report Card, a four-year report that depicts the condition and performance of American infrastructure. Improving slightly over last year, the nation received a D+ grade, highlighting the importance of opportunities such as the conference to steer the conversation surrounding infrastructure improvements.

Panelists examined the dire need for investment in all forms of infrastructure, and noted that action needs to be taken on a local level. The general sentiment among panelists was that the federal government, while stating it is going to pass a transportation and infrastructure bill, is most likely not going to be able to accomplish that goal, especially in an election year. Much credit was given to those counties that have passed investment packages, such as transportation ballot Measure M, to ensure continued dollars flowing toward infrastructure projects.

“The Greater Irvine Chamber of Commerce works hard to support efforts to enhance our infrastructure that serves as the backbone of our strong economy. Projects such as the I-405 widening are perfect examples of how Orange County is benefiting from being a ‘self-help’ county,” said Whit Peterson, director of Government Affairs for the Chamber. “Voters had the foresight to approve a half-cent sales tax increase to fund future infrastructure improvements. These types of investments have helped, and will continue to help, improve mobility in and around Orange County.”

Also discussed by panelists was the great need for SB1, the gas tax. The investments that will be made from the adjustment of the gas tax, have not been dramatically adjusted since 1990, when voters supported Proposition 111.

For more information about the Greater Irvine Chamber work in government affairs and how to become involved, contact Whit Peterson.

Category: Advocacy News