Editorial: Infrastructure Week and the Work Ahead

It’s Infrastructure Week, the annual spotlight on the nation’s roads and bridges. During a week’s worth of discussion, a lot will be said about the need to update and repair existing infrastructure as well as build from scratch what will be needed to carry transportation into the future.

To be sure, some of the topics will be long range. But there is plenty of near-term need — and opportunity — to make improvements now.

For proof, look no further than this issue of Transport Topics. On the pages that follow, you’ll find a special section dedicated to ongoing work to help ease congestion in Nevada and an exploration of one of the state’s trouble spots. TT staff reporters headed west from our Virginia offices to cover these stories firsthand, providing a deep dive into the kind of challenges that both accompany and necessitate major infrastructure projects.

Many of those challenges will be front-and-center this week; among the issues on the Infrastructure Week docket are the degree to which equipment makers rely on the nation’s infrastructure to keep goods moving; the latest on autonomous technology; and an update on the Trump administration’s proposal to streamline the permitting process for project approvals.

While this last item backs up a promise the president made to help cut red tape that can slow progress on infrastructure projects, the admission last week by the White House that movement on Trump’s sweeping 10-year, $1.5 trillion infrastructure proposal likely won’t happen this year was disheartening. While not a surprise — it’s accepted D.C. wisdom that the effort likely will hold until at least the midterm elections — to hear it from the podium in the White House press office was a bit deflating.

But that just serves to make efforts such as those going on in Nevada — and elsewhere — all the more uplifting. Despite the headwinds, needed work is getting done. And the ideas and proposals shared during Infrastructure Week — which we’ll cover extensively online and in print — will hopefully inform and compel forward future projects. We all know the need is there, and maintaining focus on infrastructure — this week and in the days and weeks to come — is a commitment the entire trucking industry should make.