Predictions

August 2014 » Columns » FIRM THOUGHTS
David Evans, P.E., PLS, F.ASCE
Things are more like they are now than they ever were before.
— President Eisenhower
In this present crisis, Government is not the solution to our problem, Government is the problem.
— President Reagan
The economy of our country is improving.
— Our current president
Writing about various solutions to fix the Highway Trust Fund is a little like predicting the weather: You can hardly be wrong, no matter what solution you choose. Nevertheless, my prediction is that no solution will be in place when this piece hits the streets.

Writing a column in June for a mid-August issue is a problem. Every news item that has come out of

Washington, D.C., during June has senators, representatives, cabinet leaders, and even our fearless leader, (Ok, just leader) (Ok, Ok, president) telling each other and us that, “Something must be done or the Highway Trust Fund will run out of money!” What will have happened by mid-August is not too hard to predict. Congress will have either acted and some temporary, or maybe even long-term, fix will be in place — or it won’t.

With the government’s track record this year (several years?) (many years?) being not so stellar, it is easy to see Congress just letting things crash with the Highway Trust Fund. This makes no congressperson responsible, or all congresspersons responsible. No individual running for re-election is singled out.

If my understanding of our Constitution (still in place?) is correct, the responsibility for tax measures is in the hands of the House of Representatives. This makes it easy for senators to say, “Action is needed!” However, with all 435 representatives up for re-election this November, expecting action or a break-through on any issue is problematic.

The congressman from Portland, Ore. (my firm’s headquarters) has never had a serious opponent, and none is expected, so he has been, and currently is, advocating a gas tax-increasing measure. When he and I talked about this being a no-brainer for Congress, he replied, “If only it were so.” Maybe there is more to this “no- brainer” thought than I anticipated.

Maybe, “A National Six-Point plan to Regain America’s Infrastructure Leadership” would help. Open the following link and read what experts from 45 companies representing the entire infrastructure industry think it will take to be “Making The Grade” — www.autodesk.com/content/dam/autodesk/www/campaigns/ making-the-grade/making_the%20grade_report_2014_WEB.pdf.

With so much of the civil and structural engineering industry, and of course construction, dependent on government funding and government action, my hope for this column is that by August it will be irrelevant and wrong!

David Evans, P.E., PLS, F.ASCE, is the founder (1976) and a member of the board of David Evans Enterprises, Inc., the holding company for David Evans and Associates (www.deainc.com), and the author of “Achieving Zero,” a book on the life of the firm. He can be contacted at david.evans@zweigwhite.com.


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