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May 28, 2019

WSJ Publishes ACEC President/CEO Linda Bauer Darr's Letter Calling for More Resilient Infrastructure

WSJ Publishes ACEC President/CEO Linda Bauer Darr's Letter Calling for More Resilient Infrastructure

In a letter published in The Wall Street Journal, ACEC President/CEO Linda Bauer Darr calls for a more proactive approach to disaster mitigation:

Preparing for Disasters Saves Costly Cleanups

Government cannot simply react to these terrible events—the public interest is better served if we adopt a more proactive approach.

Regarding your May 16 editorial “Washington’s Disaster Cynicism”: The discussion on Capitol Hill regarding more relief for Puerto Rico in the face of billions in unspent appropriations strongly suggests a need for transition to more robust planning to address changing risks to local infrastructure. Natural disasters such as a storms, wildfires, floods and earthquakes have for years reflexively triggered immediate funding relief efforts.

No one can dispute the importance of quick congressional action to provide aid after a disruptive and costly disaster. But going forward, government cannot simply react to these terrible events—the public interest is better served if we adopt a more proactive approach, particularly in how we design and build critical infrastructure. Thankfully, that question is being asked, Congress is taking note and lawmakers are beginning to see the value of future risk mitigation.

Across the country, we can see examples of how to do it. In Seattle, the new Alaskan Way Viaduct replacement tunnel, which replaces an earthquake-vulnerable elevated highway, is a model of resilience and risk mitigation. Once completed, it will be the largest multiagency project in Washington-state history and one of the largest infrastructure projects ever built in the western U.S.

Congress took an initial step to mitigate future costs in the Disaster Recovery Reform Act late last year, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other bodies are gradually ramping up their risk-mitigation programs. Yet more needs to be done to ensure that new energy, water and transportation infrastructure is not based on yesterday’s land-use, sea-level, weather and design standards. There needs to be a wholesale paradigm shift toward a proactive mindset on mitigation and that takes time.

Linda Bauer Darr
President
American Council of Engineering Cos.
Washington
Appeared in the May 28, 2019, print edition.


All comments to blog posts will be moderated by ACEC staff.

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