In the last 5 years we have seen the most challenging times of our professional careers. We have experienced a construction slowdown in both private and public work as the ripple effect of the housing bubble worked its way through the entire United States and North Carolina. We saw colleagues, friends and entire companies disappear as the new design work slowed down and needed maintenance was postponed due to the changing environment. From the local government levels to the Nation’s capital we were affected by these changes that were occurring.
Some of our most important resources the nation’s infrastructures were being used as pawns in the growing debates in Washington D.C. like they have never been before. The FAA Authorization Bill expired in 2007 and required 23 extensions over a 5 year period including a two week period were congress could not even pass an extension that lead to a temporary shutdown of the FAA and many airport construction projects. A Bill was finally passed on February 14, 2012 that reauthorized funding levels for the FAA until the Federal Fiscal year 2015. This is only three years away from October 1 2012, but it took them 5 years to pass a new bill.
Along the same line it took 6 extensions by congress to approve a 2 ¼ year transportation reauthorization bill on June 29th. This bill took over 3 years to pass and only authorized funding for 3 years total as it was retro-active to October 1, 2011, today that bill is down too two years left.
These types of delays not only affect us as engineers and planners from the aspect of job security but also affect the way we as a nation can operate on a daily basis. As we enter the final leg of the 2012 elections, which most of us can’t wait for them to be over, we need to remember that if we want to see changes we need to be a bigger part of the process moving forward. We are the experts in our fields and we see the impacts from our daily work, weather it is new construction, rehabilitation or future needs. We all know the difference between a developed and undeveloped country in the world today, infrastructure, without it we can’t produce or even maintain the country we want the United States to be. Make your vote count on election day by helping us educate our elected officials from all levels of government local, state and federal. If you can join us as we create the next North Carolina Infrastructure Report Card over the next year, participate in the legislative Fly-in or the State Legislative drive-in. Go and meet your local representatives when they talk about the local water projects, road projects and bridge repairs. I ask you to help share your knowledge with our elected officials to educate them so that we can keep the country moving in a positive direction.
Eric Rysdon, P.E., M.ASCE