By Robert E. Alger, President & CEO, Lane Industries, Inc. and 2019 ARTBA Chairman
ARTBA’s top legislative goal remains clear: passage of legislation to provide a permanent revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund (HTF). The nearly three-decade-old Transportation Makes America Work (TMAW) advocacy program is a key tool to advance this industry priority in the Nation’s Capital.
TMAW is focused exclusively on building and protecting the transportation construction market. It operates like a political campaign, utilizing tactics to support our industry’s legislative and regulatory priorities, legal activities, research and advertising, and grassroots lobbying efforts, particularly inside the D.C. Beltway.
In a coordinated strategy that involves many of our allies, TMAW this year has initiated several activities to create pressure on Congress and the Trump administration to fix the HTF as part of the FAST Act reauthorization, due in 2020, or a broader infrastructure bill. Among them:
Bridge Report: Since its April 1 release, ARTBA’s annual bridge conditions report has garnered nearly non-stop media coverage for its analysis of 47,000 U.S. structurally deficient bridges. In addition to conventional media such as CNN, CNBC, USA Today, and PBS’s Nightly Business Report, the report has received additional exposure through the social media feeds of members of Congress, the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, and labor unions. The report also led one of the Democratic presidential candidates to issue a statement about the need to boost investments.
Public Opinion Research: ARTBA joined forces with long-time ally, the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), to commission a public opinion survey about infrastructure. In January, Rasmussen Reports found that while only 43 percent of likely voters support using federal dollars to build a wall or physical barrier along the southern border, almost 90 percent believe “the Democratic leadership and President Trump should work together during 2019 to pass legislation that would improve other infrastructure.” We continue to use these poll findings in ongoing messaging on Capitol Hill, in newspaper opinion pieces, and broader advertising campaigns.
Television & Digital Ad Campaign: The ARTBA co-chaired Transportation Construction Coalition (TCC) and U.S. Chamber of Commerce-led Americans for Transportation Mobility (ATM) coalition in March began targeting Capitol Hill and the White House with this campaign message: “Congress: Fix Our Infrastructure Problem Now.” It included an opinion piece in Politico and digital ads that connect to the TCC’s newly redesigned website. The campaign culminates in a 30-second television spot (“Stuck”) that begins airing in Washington, D.C., in the run up to the Federal Issues Program and TCC’s Fly-In, May 13-15, and concurrent National Infrastructure Week.
This ad campaign is a six-figure financial investment. The polling, bridge report, and other activities also cost money. If you’ve already made your TMAW investment again this year, we say “thank you.” If you have not, we ask your company or organization to make a major financial contribution soon. The House and Senate are holding infrastructure-related hearings and are scheduling time this summer for additional legislative action. Our industry needs your financial support to help ensure we have the necessary resources to battle our opponents and get the job done.
Working together, and through TMAW, we can secure the Highway Trust Fund fix that is critical to building the transportation construction market and the 21st century infrastructure network that all Americans deserve!
This story appears in the March/April issue of ARTBA’s Transportation Builder magazine.