Much of the time, there is more bad news than good about the condition of America’s infrastructure. Not only is it in need of large doses of TLC, but the resources to provide it are scarce in this spread-thin economy and with a public that is ambivalent and distracted at best, willfully ignorant and unconcerned at worst.
There are some rays of light beaming through the clouds, however – dedicated, passionate, knowledgeable people willing to give their time, money and attention to this vital issue. We’ve curated a list of notable organizations along with a brief description of what they are currently doing to offer support, promote activism, and inspire altruism for the sake of our roads, bridges, transit systems, and waterways.
Transportation for America (T4America) has consistently been a strong voice on behalf of our transportation network. A non-profit co-chaired by Smart Growth America and Reconnecting America, T4America calls itself the “most diverse coalition anywhere” with a mission to align local, state and national policies. They pour passion all over everything they do, and they do a lot. From research and reports to interactive data maps to social media to organizing events and webinars, T4America has earned respect from all corners. T4America recently announced the kickoff of a new push to strengthen its coalition, spotlight state and local funding efforts, and aim a loud voice at Congress as they prepare to tackle MAP-21 and transportation funding in 2014.
Building America’s Future Educational Fund (BAF) is a bipartisan effort put together by Ed Rendell, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Michael Bloomberg to spotlight the benefits of infrastructure investment in terms of long-term prosperity and quality of life. BAF co-sponsors events with other leading advocates and publishes reports in hopes of influencing both local and national policy, but lately they’ve generated the most buzz with their I’m Stuck app. Commuters and travelers can use their phones to ping elected representatives about the real-time experiences they have with our transportation network – the good, the bad, and the ugly. The goal behind the app is to supply government officials with plenty of grassroots “motivation” for supporting infrastructure funding.
This list would not be complete without a shout out to ASCE and their sustained efforts as infrastructure advocates. ASCE’s Report Card for America’s Infrastructure is a respected benchmark for assessing needs and soliciting solutions. ASCE also does things like lobbies Congress and partners with education interests to spread the message to future infrastructure decision makers.
Created by the Brookings Institution, the Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative offers in-depth research, events, and troves of data to support the cause of transportation and infrastructure in our cities. Check out the videos posted from this summer’s panel discussion: Can-Do States: A New Era for Infrastructure Investment.
InfrastructureUSA is an online community (launched by the Open Space Institute) that successfully elicits interest and interactivity from its audience by inviting anyone who cares about infrastructure to contribute content, ask questions of experts, stay engaged with their blog, and participate in surveys.
Building the case for public-private partnerships, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce commits its resources to education and outreach about infrastructure. Their Let’s Rebuild America and Americans for Transportation Mobility initiatives produce programs, publications and events to raise awareness and engage action in the business community.
PBS does its part to bolster awareness of the issues surrounding infrastructure with Blueprint America. This site aggregates news and insights from PBS and its affiliates and turns it into a multi-media hub centered around the challenges we face and what is (or is not) being done to meet them.
Rebuilding America’s Infrastructure (RAI) is a centralized news source for all things infrastructure. Published by ZweigWhite, RAI lets you stay up to date on specific sectors of the infrastructure world as well as on policy and funding.
America’s Infrastructure Alliance (AIA) brings together leadership from associations supporting aviation, waterways, roadways, and railways along with members of the business community and former legislators to educate the public and challenge stakeholders to push hard for adequate transportation funding. According to chairman Jeff Loveng, AIA focuses “outside the Beltway, targeting sectors of the country that have a populace perceived as unfriendly to the idea of federal transportation spending.” As a relatively new organization, AIA is strengthening its voice in the national conversation through widely-seen media and PR campaigns.
Yes, there is a podcast about infrastructure! Join Joseph Schofer of Northwestern University and Chicago radio host Tom Herman as they discuss pressing issues with top experts from engineering, management, finance and planning on The Infrastructure Show.
If we missed one of your favorite organizations, tell us about it!