For the first time, ASCE is formally recognizing an individual member and a team who are dedicated to saving America’s infrastructure and promoting ASCE’s Priority Issues through building relationships with lawmakers. The Outstanding Civil Engineer Advocate of the Year Award winners, Darren Benoit and the Louisiana Section, will be recognized for their achievements at ASCE’s Legislative Fly-In, an annual two-day event where ASCE members promote the civil engineering profession to their state’s U.S. Congressional representatives.
Darren Benoit, of New Hampshire, has advocated on surface transportation, dam safety, and other issues at both the state and federal levels. Among his most notable accomplishments in years of building relationships with lawmakers and educating the public, Darren testified in front of the New Hampshire state legislature about the need for an increased investment in transportation funding. Last year, New Hampshire’s representatives and senators responded by raising the state’s fuel tax for the first time in two decades. In 2011, he led the New Hampshire Section of ASCE in its release of the Report Card for New Hampshire’s Infrastructure and has again taken the lead on updating the report.
The Louisiana Section of ASCE began its advocacy efforts for better infrastructure throughout the state with the release of the 2012 Report Card for Louisiana’s Infrastructure. To follow up on the efforts of the Report Card, which gave the state’s infrastructure a GPA of “C-,” the Section joined forces with other like-minded groups to hold the first-ever Infrastructure Awareness Day at the state capitol. The event included a luncheon with lawmakers to discuss the importance of infrastructure and the need for increased investment. Four days later, state Sen. Robert Adley testified on his proposal to better fund transportation. Similarly, state Rep. Karen St. Germain has since proposed legislation that would transfer vehicle sales tax revenue to transportation, boosting investment by more than $400 million a year.
Darren and the Louisiana Section, along with all our Key Contacts, represent ASCE’s Priority Issues to America’s lawmakers. Congratulations to Darren and the Louisiana Section for being our inaugural award winners. Keep up the great work!