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To the ACEC Community,

This morning, I participated in the legislative conference of the American Public Transportation Association (APTA) here in Washington. Like ACEC, their members meet each year for Hill visits and to talk about public policy and its intersection with legislation. This year ACEC’s Hill visits may be more important than ever.  We are behind the eight ball, so to speak, on the R&D amortization issue and if we don’t move the needle in the Senate between now and then, your visits have the potential to provide the friction needed to force dug-in senators off their ill-advised political positions on this issue and bring them over to our side.

Not surprisingly, many in the Senate are playing politics instead of tending to the business of the people. The R&D fix will keep some of our small firms from declaring bankruptcy and will allow the wheels of innovation to keep on turning. Yet, a growing number of Senators are turning their backs on a fix, betting on the possibility that the political winds will change in the fall and clear the way for an even better deal, namely on the child tax credit. Some are opposed to the contours of that tax credit, while others appear to be unwilling to do anything that could be perceived as a win for the White House in an election year. Either way, unless we are able to turn the tide between now and mid-May, we are going to need your help making some noise in DC about this critical issue. Make your voice heard and register now for the ACEC Convention and Legislative Summit.

But back to the APTA conference this morning. I participated in a panel about the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and infrastructure investment with the CEOs of APTA, the American Association of State Highway & Transportation Officials, the American Road & Transportation Builders (ARTBA), and the Conference of Minority Transportation Officials (COMTO).  As I listened to the other panelists, it struck me how united we are in our views of the importance of this historic investment in our nation’s infrastructure.  But, not surprisingly, each group had a specific angle they wanted to emphasize. For AASHTO it was their preference for formula funds as a way to speed spending, while for ARTBA it was Buy America, which is always a strong applause line in the State of the Union Address but may also complicate the prospect of efficient spending of infrastructure funds. For COMTO it was about transparency in where funds are spent and the commitment to equity in transportation funding that was embraced by the legislation.

For my part, I could agree at least in part with the benefits and issues laid out by the others, but I also stressed a couple of key priorities important to our firms: First, the importance of procurement decisions embracing qualifications — specifically Qualifications-Based Selection – to ensure project success; and second, the importance of the added focus in the legislation on project resilience, sustainability, and innovation. Talking about the future, I stressed the need for the next round of infrastructure funding to take into account designing for the future and rewarding innovators, represented by so many of our firms, that drive solutions including, but not limited to, the massive investment we are making in digital delivery to meet the challenges of the future.

There are a lot of voices in Washington, all of them advocating for their unique interests and issues. Conferences like our Annual Convention – and like the panel in which I participated today – are a reminder that these interests and issues have real-world implications for our communities, our country, and our society. We’ll keep fighting the good fight, but here in Washington, the most powerful voice continues to be yours. Hope to see you here in May.

Have a great week,

Linda Bauer Darr

Linda Bauer Darr


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