By T. Peter Ruane
ARTBA President and CEO
In May 1940, at the precipice of World War II, new British Prime Minister Winston Churchill faced one of the world’s most defining moments: exploring a negotiated treaty with Nazi Germany or standing firm to fight for the ideals and freedom of a nation.
As Hitler’s army rolled through Western Europe, the British public was unprepared for the threat of invasion as Churchill’s own party schemed to replace him. The perilous moment forced Churchill to rally his country and try to change the course of history.
In the climactic scene of the current hit movie “Darkest Hour,” Academy Award winner Gary Oldman superbly channels Churchill in one of his most famous speeches to the U.K. Parliament House of Commons, saying:
“We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
Churchill’s stirring oratory is no doubt one of his greatest legacies. And while this speech was obviously addressing much more dire and weighty issues, it conveys certain sentiments that can serve as inspiration and a rallying call today to the transportation design and construction industry.
2018 has the real potential to be the most consequential year in decades for our industry as the Trump administration and Congress are poised to consider a major transportation infrastructure package and a permanent revenue solution for the Highway Trust Fund. This is as “weighty” as domestic federal policy issues come, and the end result will have huge consequences for the nation’s future economic growth and competitiveness, as well as your market share.
There are at least three things you can do to help ensure our industry fights to win.
First, register to attend the May 14-16 ARTBA Federal Issues Program and Transportation Construction Coalition Fly-in, and bring others from your firm or agency with you. Having many hundreds of industry professionals fan out on Capitol Hill to meet with members of Congress will be critical to helping them understand the need for action this year!
Second, take grassroots action at the appropriate times when the call comes from ARTBA. Our Phone2Action digital platform makes it easy to send an email, a tweet or Facebook post to your senators and representative. As importantly, be prepared to distribute any “Action Alerts” internally to your company’s employees and direct them to contact their elected officials.
Third, make a major financial contribution to support ARTBA’s Transportation Makes America Work (TMAW) program to help ensure our industry has the financial resources necessary to mount aggressive, legislative and regulatory affairs, litigation, advertising and other communications advocacy initiatives on the industry’s behalf. Nearly 60 firms and state chapter associations supported TMAW in 2017. Let’s push that number even higher this year.
This legislative battle will not likely be easy or quick, but that’s to be expected in the public policy arena. Surrender should never be in our industry’s DNA. When it comes to an infrastructure package and a permanent Highway Trust Fund fix, it’s our collective responsibility to keep fighting until the job is done right!