Each spring, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) conducts its Legislative Fly-In in Washington, D.C., providing member Societies such as UCA, the opportunity to connect with Members of Congress or their senior legislative staff to advance policy priorities.
The UCA has taken part in this program for the past five years as an opportunity to promote the value of tunneling and underground construction projects to decision-makers in the nation’s capital and will do so again this year.
“We begin by thanking our representatives for their support of infrastructure spending and the major bills that have been passed into law in the past few years,” said Bob Goodfellow, past chair of UCA and president of Aldea Services Inc. Goodfellow has represented UCA on previous Legislative Fly-Ins and participate in this year’s trip along with Joe Clare, vice president and national practice lead for tunnels and underground construction for Shannon & Wilson.
Goodfellow said that the UCA contingent will focus on building support from legislators for two major tunneling projects; the Seattle Sound transit program from Ballard to West Seattle, WA and the Amtrak Frederick Douglass Tunnel in Baltimore, MD.
“Securing the funding stream for these critical projects is an important topic of discussion,” said Goodfellow, who will be armed with support material created by UCA members. “We pass along our Tunnel Watchlist and our Five Myths of Tunneling handouts to the representatives and staff. This again is part of our educational effort highlighting the value of infrastructure and specifically underground infrastructure.”
The Tunnel Watchlist was created in 2021 to highlight future tunneling projects that will provide significant benefit to the United States and the communities in which they will be constructed. Many of these projects include tunnels that improve water quality or transportation and these are projects are often in need of funding or additional support.
“Building awareness of the significant benefits to society and the economy of funding infrastructure and building awareness that underground infrastructure is the least invasive and least disruptive form of construction is one of the top goals (of the Legislative Fly-In),” said Goodfellow. “The second objective is to educate policy makers that there is a cost benefit to going underground.”
As civil engineers, Goodfellow said that the whims of planning and funding often have a massive impact on infrastructure projects so it is important to advocate for necessary funding.
“It is empowering for all of us to know more about those planning and funding processes. In many ways it is the opposite of our training in logic and mathematics, but this also can be a strength by giving the elected official a forgotten perspective from those of us directly employed and dependent on these projects that they push and pull off the board for other social and monetary reasons,” said Goodfellow.
The 2024 ASCE Legislative Fly In will take place in Washington, D.C. on February 28 – March 1, 2024.
Photo: L to R: UCA members Bob Goodfellow, Joe Clare, Conrad Felice, Jim Lindsay, Chris Nelsen and Mark Abtahi at the 2023 ASCE Legislative Fly-In.