Spring to Americans symbolizes a time for rebirth and renewal. It’s a sacred holy season for many in our country and although the weather remains volatile in some areas, soon the flowers will be blooming and those pavers that may have sat dormant for a long winter season will be in action. I often marvel at Mother Nature’s design, intricacy and creativity. Spring is never boring or redundant, rather it’s dynamic and inspiring as it brings our world alive again. Concrete paving promotion needs to take inspiration from Spring and bring dynamic and bold arguments to anyone who will listen, including lawmakers, and decision-makers.

As we have repeatedly noted, the IIJA and IRA have brought unprecedented funding to America’s infrastructure. Inflation, backlog, personnel shortages, confusion and other matters caused a slow start to planning  construction projects, but as we’ve also noted many times, the money is flowing and the opportunity is there.  The IRA, in particular, offered creative approaches to incentivize low-carbon materials usage and further the Administration’s climate agenda with the announcement of $2B in Low-Carbon Materials Transportation grants. In response to this announcement, ACPA and its partners mobilized to create the Reduced Carbon Concrete Consortium (RC3),a resource for DOTs and other qualifying entities to pursue these funds. If DOTs are creative, these funds can change programs and truly be transformed. The RC3 is exercising creativity in who it reaches out to as well as to amplify the message. Engineers close to the projects may not be in a position to cause change, so RC3 is amplifying the message above and beyond to get the word out. Long-life paving projects can be achieved if the right initiative is employed.

Acknowledgment to the Concrete Paving Association of Minnesota (CPAM) this season too. CPAM has often employed a creative approach for whom they advocate for concrete paving. They make strong arguments and take the “fight” into any arena. They have participated in legislative hearings, held meetings with decision-makers at all levels, and even helped introduce legislation. They see tremendous progress with lawmakers beginning to understand that to achieve a strong, economical and long-lasting infrastructure, you need competition for materials and the guts to make some change. CPAM was pleased to learn that MNDOT has adopted one of their ideas and “up-scoped” a number of projects with an internal set aside pot of funds exclusively to promote longer-life pavements. This likely wouldn’t have happened if CPAM stayed on the sideline. Thank you, Dan Labo and Matt Zeller for being creative and aggressive. Your approach seems to be working!

Lastly, I would like to say, on behalf of the American Concrete Pavement Association (ACPA), that our hearts go out to the families who lost loved ones in connection with the Francis Scott Key Bridge collapse in Baltimore. It is being reported that as many as six construction workers engaged in overnight repair lost their lives. We keep you in our thoughts. We are also reminded of the critical role first responders play in saving lives as it is also being reported that they had the presence of mind to quickly shut down traffic, saving countless lives. Where would we be without the hard work of our construction workers, first responders and now the engineers who will work to rebuild? We are humbled.