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What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

  • 1.  What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 01-30-2020 15:01

    The first EVER Presidential Candidates Forum on America's Infrastructure is coming - 2/16/2020! Clean water, reliable transportation, climate resilience - how to address these issues and more will be outlined by America's leaders this President's Day Weekend at UNLV!

    ASCE has been asked to submit questions for the forum and your question could be chosen. We want your input. Questions can be focused on infrastructure broadly, can be geared towards a candidate, can be about an infrastructure issue, or simply “will you commit to signing an infrastructure bill in your first year.” What questions would you ask the candidates? Please share on this thread for ASCE to select and submit to the moderators. ASCE will let you know if your question has been chosen.


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    Tirza Austin
    Manager, Online Community
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    1801 Alexander Bell Drive
    Reston, VA 20191
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  • 2.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-01-2020 09:32
    With states looking to increase transportation funding for backlogged infrastructure needs, many have implemented (or are pursuing) increases in state gas taxes.  However, with the notable increase in hybrid and electric vehicle ownership, we have seen a major drop in gas tax revenue (state and federal) that needs to be considered where it was not in the past.

    In lieu of raising gas taxes and charging a fee to those drivers who no longer pay their "fair share" in gas tax, what are realistic ways to ensure that America's transportation system has reliable funding?  With an inconsistent Highway Trust Fund, what are your thoughts on the per-mile charge that some states are considering, given privacy concerns of government overseeing vehicle miles traveled?

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    James Bittner P.E.,R.Eng,M.ASCE
    Senior Civil Engineer
    City Of San Jose
    San Jose CA
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  • 3.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-01-2020 16:30
    ... Another question I would ask relating to flood risk is as follows:

    Since Hurricane Katrina the federal government has not taken action to mandate that all states develop levee safety programs and dam safety programs. How would your administration approach dam and levee safety?

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    Andrew Wells A.M.ASCE
    Engineering Assistant III
    Juneau AK
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  • 4.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-01-2020 16:31
    Hi Tirza,

    Thank you for bringing this opportunity to our attention.  Please see my question below:

    "NOAA estimates that flooding and tropical cyclones has caused nearly $400 billion dollars in damages across the US since 2015.  Outside of climate change initiatives, what policies would your administration pursue to address flood risk?  Would you consider restructuring responsibilities of the various federal agencies with authority over flood risk management?"

    Source: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/overview


    Sincerely,


    -Andrew

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    Andrew Wells A.M.ASCE
    Engineering Assistant III
    Juneau AK
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  • 5.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-03-2020 07:46

    I would ask the candidates how they propose to divide increased federal funding into the many and various types of infrastructure needs. In my long career as a water/wastewater engineer, our infrastructure needs have generally received the short end of the stick compared to more visible infrastructure such as roads, bridges and airports. 

    Aging underground pipes pose just as much, if not more threat to economic development and public health (think about water quality, lead service pipes, sewage overflows etc.) as other infrastructure needs.  



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    Bevin Beaudet P.E., M.ASCE
    President/Owner
    Bevin A. Beaudet, P.E., LLC.
    West Palm Beach FL
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  • 6.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-03-2020 11:26
    What would your administration do to ensure that States will not take monies from transportation funding to pay for teachers and first responders pensions? Also, how will your administration ensure a fair selection process for projects so that big companies with large pockets do not win all of the projects?

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    John Wood P.E., M.ASCE
    Project Engineer
    Pittsburgh PA
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  • 7.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-05-2020 15:34
    Hi all! I'm loving the questions coming in. I'll be responding individually to you all about them. As a reminder, you have until Feb. 10 to submit. As you think of your questions, please remember to keep the following in line:

    1. ASCE's 2017 Infrastructure Report Card rated the overall condition of the nation's infrastructure a cumulative grade of "D+," with an investment gap of $2 trillion.
    2. We built out our system decades ago and haven't kept up with the necessary maintenance and upgrades.
    3. The average American family loses $3,400 a year to outdated, unreliable infrastructure systems. That is $9 a day
    4. Across the country, we're spending 42 hours a year – that's nearly 2 days – stuck in traffic. 45 percent of nation's highways are in poor condition, costing each motorist $616 per year in extra vehicle repairs and operating costs.
    5. A water main break occurs every two minutes somewhere in the country
    6. Investing in infrastructure means spending more time with our families and less time in the car
    7. Investing in infrastructure means a better quality of life - these are critical investments to quality of life, safety that will become more challenging the longer we wait.
    8. Rather than focusing on the building aspect of infrastructure, in the rebuilding process, we also need to think about modernizing the infrastructure we have to make it fit for the 21st century. Our future depends on resilient infrastructure. As civil engineers, we are thinking about building infrastructure that will last for 50 to 100 years, or more and we are ensuring our infrastructure is more resilient and sustainable as we plan for the future with new technologies, approaches, and materials.

    Feel free to reference our priorities for Congress here: https://www.asce.org/uploadedFiles/Issues_and_Advocacy/Advocacy/Content_Pieces/ASCE_116_Congress_infographic_web.pdf

    Finally - Make it personal, make it relevant to non-civil engineers, link issues you bring up to the candidates' messaging (jobs, health, economy, etc. You can't have good education without safe school buildings, right?). Also, be specific!

    Moderators will ask questions in addition to some submitted. I'll be in touch with you if your question is chosen, and then you will submit that question on a separate form. Thank you! Feel free to email me with any questions. alopez@...



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    Alexa Lopez Aff.M.ASCE
    Senior Manager of Public Affairs and Media Relations
    American Society of Civil Engineers
    Washington DC
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  • 8.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-10-2020 22:39
    Here is my question:

    Considering there are initial costs to build new infrastructure, capital costs to replace unsafe infrastructure, and annual costs to maintain infrastructure, how would you prioritize infrastructure spending? How would you ensure that such infrastructure will be sustainable in order to meet climate change challenges?



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    Rene Vidales P.E., ENV SP, M.ASCE
    Program Coordinator
    San Diego CA
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  • 9.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-10-2020 23:40
    The most recent report card by ASCE rated America's outdated infrastructure a D+ overall, with deficiencies costing each American $3,400 a year, and putting American health and welfare at risk.

    With that in mind, what is the first step you would take as president to help repair our crumbling infrastructure and restore our place at the top pf the class?

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    Chad Leege P.E., M.ASCE
    San Leandro CA
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  • 10.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-11-2020 15:35

    Organizations such as Americans for Prosperity have historically resisted efforts to expand public transportation near cities like Detroit, Nashville, and Phoenix. As President, what will you do to ensure that special interests do not block the creation and expansion of public transit systems?

    Past efforts to strengthen the nation's infrastructure, such as the New Deal, gave many ordinary Americans a leg up. However, communities of color and women were largely blocked from participating. As President, how would you ensure equity is emphasized in infrastructure repair - both in terms of which communities are prioritized and who is hired to do repair work?

    These are a day late - but I hope they can still make the cut!



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    Maria Warren S.M.ASCE
    Student
    Atlanta GA
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  • 11.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-14-2020 11:44
    This isn't so much a question, since the window for submission is closed, but we spend so much time focused on the amount of money we spend (or more often don't spend) on infrastructure without asking the more fundamental question of whether we have the right kind of infrastructure. Our development pattern (spread-out, automobile-centric, and automobile-dependent) is inherently unsustainable, and we're realising that unsustainability today. To continue doing what we've done for the past seventy plus years not only fits the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results), but it also throws good money after bad.

    We MUST stop building infrastructure solely for the automobile. Our built spaces should put people first, but if we look around our cities and towns today, we see that the car is Number 1 and infrastructure for people (sidewalks, transit, destinations spaced close enough that one can reach them without the need for a car) is lucky if it takes second fiddle (more often it's completely non-existent). As Civil Engineers, we have a duty to stop this insanity and design infrastructure that puts people first.​​ Until we do, we will continue to put public health and safety at risk.

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    Joel Dixon P.E., M.ASCE
    Project Manager
    Oklahoma City OK
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  • 12.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-14-2020 13:27
    I passionately, 100%, agree with your comments. My work is almost exclusively for the development of large group assembly occupancy space,(churches, performing arts venues, themed attractions, etc.). Places exactly like the venue where presidential forums might take place. When I look at potential properties, parking is among the top of the discussion. Even the code minimums (usually 4:1) don't help because they don't match human behavior (usually 2:1 ratio is needed to match vehicle occupancy behavior). It's even worse if the venue uses volunteers or a heavy staff presence to service the public.

    One might ask, "what about parking garages?" Parking structures are unsightly (even the AHJ's don't like them), very expensive both to build and use (in many cases the added costs of vertical parking will kill the project altogether) and are generally a bad guest/user experience (Is anyone ever excited about parking structures (excluding our CE's friends that design them?).

    This heavy reliance on auto transportation is very difficult for sustainable development. Humans will forever further develop the built environment, therefore I'm excited to see endeavoring minds look towards some better solutions - but it's going to take the whole village.​

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    Jesse Kamm PhD, PMP, A.M.ASCE
    Senior Vice President of Construction Management
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  • 13.  RE: What Questions Would You Ask Presidential Candidates about America's Infrastructure?

    Posted 02-17-2020 23:02
    I completely agree.  The topic of development patterns is critical to addressing many infrastructure issues. This is something that Tom Steyer actually discussed during the forum.  I think it is often left out of infrastructure discussions because people see it more as an economic issue than an engineering one.  The issue is also primarily a local one, where states and the federal government don't have very much (if any) jurisdiction, since most development decisions are made by local planning boards and city assemblies.  It is also my understanding that unincorporated communities don't have those organizations and therefore have very limited abilities (if any) to direct developers.

    As a result, the only way to make real progress on this issue is to be actively involved at the local level, convincing individuals that it is not in their interest to be spread out.  Furthermore, you have to convince elected officials that the easy tax revenue from sprawling development is not in the town, city, etc.'s long term interests.  Given that most people don't know who their mayor is, let alone their assembly or zoning board members, this is a daunting task.

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    Andrew Wells A.M.ASCE
    Engineering Assistant III
    Juneau AK
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