By Dave Bauer
ARTBA President & CEO
If you had told me last year that the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases would be throwing out the first pitch of the Major League Baseball season in July, I would have had more questions than answers. But Dr. Anthony Fauci’s first pitch highlights how the nation is both struggling and persevering amid the rigors of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This ceremonial activity—often reserved for political leaders, celebrities, and armed service members—was performed four months later than usual, and Dr. Fauci’s wayward pitch may be the most fitting metaphor yet for 2020.
After five months of uncertainty, sheltering-in-place, and new safety protocols, there is no doubt the coronavirus has disrupted virtually every corner of the American way of life. There is a big difference, however, between disruption and defeat.
Whether it be sports without fans in the stands, the continuity of essential services, virtual classrooms or exponential growth in teleworking, our nation has been remarkable in creating new paths forward for a wide range of activities previously taken for granted.
The foundation of this adaptability has been a willingness to accept that the things we want and must do will—for the time being—need to be done in a different fashion.
Resilience in the face of adversity has long been a core competency of the transportation construction industry. That strength has certainly been needed in 2020.
ARTBA members continue to adjust their practices in the wake of COVID-19, as chronicled in Rich Juliano’s regular reports. Project owners and the private sector are partnering to deliver transportation improvements, while protecting the health and safety of workers and the travelling public.
ARTBA members AECOM, Trimble, and Sterling Construction Company described during a July 8 webinar how their businesses have evolved as they have encountered different stages of the pandemic. Panelists discussed best practices for the new normal, like return-to-work protocols, expanding work from home, and how the industry is helping public agencies return to service.
Like our members, ARTBA continues to fulfill its mission throughout 2020, albeit in new and different ways. Instead of a traditional May Board of Directors meeting in the nation’s capital, we conducted a virtual board meeting June 28 where the association leaders discussed our ongoing push for increased federal transportation investment. The Board also unanimously approved a three-year strategic plan.
This event complemented earlier sessions where ARTBA members received a Capitol Hill update from White House Legislative Affairs Director Eric Ueland and supporters of ARTBA’s political action committee received an overview of the 2020 elections from the Cook Political Report’s David Wasserman.
In July, both the annual Transportation Investment Advocacy Center Workshop and Public Private Partnerships (P3s) in Transportation Conference were conducted through an interactive, online platform. Over 300 participants received the same high-quality content they have come to expect with a wide array of public and private sector experts sharing current developments in the funding and delivery of transportation infrastructure projects. Several participants remarked their ability to interact and network with fellow attendees exceeded their expectations for a virtual conference.
The one certainty after the last five months is the next five months will bring even more unforeseen developments.
Regardless of what comes next, two things will not change: the nation will continue to need improvements to its transportation infrastructure network; and ARTBA will remain nimble and innovative in supporting the delivery of those improvements.
Thank you for your continued support, engagement and partnership in these challenging times.
(This column appears in the July/August issue of Transportation Builder.)