I’m truly honored to be selected as a “Champion of Change” by the White House, for my roles as a civil engineer and as the 2011 president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
As many of you know, ASCE has published a Report Card for America’s Infrastructure every four years since 1988. Our most recent Report Card, issued in 2009, gave this country’s infrastructure sectors a cumulative grade of “D.”
Our nation’s economy can’t survive without the stable foundation infrastructure provides.
Most relevant to this roundtable’s discussion of how to build a world-class transportation workforce is the fact that investing in infrastructure will create jobs and stimulate the economy. For every billion dollars invested in infrastructure, 30,000 jobs are created.
If we’re to be realistic, this investment requires a dedicated source of funding. It will also require dedication to the use of sound, cutting-edge technology, wise community planning and the engagement of citizens willing to partner with the government and private sector to forge real change.
Rebuilding our nation’s public infrastructure is a problem that we know we can solve. We have the technological capacity to do so today. Solving this problem is critical to spurring economic growth and maintaining our national standard of living. To achieve this, we must begin now to discuss, agree upon and implement solutions that address the problem in a manner that recognizes the increasingly dire fiscal circumstances at all levels of government.
Kathy Caldwell is the 2011 president of the American Society of Civil Engineers.