AIM High

Government

BY TOM BARWIN SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY NOV 26, 2016

This year’s presidential election and its’ result appears to have renewed public interest in how our federal government and President will operate. Will renewed interest in our federal government, which will be led by a businessman who has rallied against special interests, who says he wants to strengthen the U.S. economy, bring positive change?

If there was a theme that could come out of this year’s fascinating and memorable election cycle one could argue the message was change, but change with a purpose. The change we need should provide tangible results, change that focuses on true problem solving and getting things done to strengthen our country and the potential for those on the lower rung of our socio-economic ladder who have been upended by the disruptive changes in our high-tech, global economy.

Modernizing America’s infrastructure and job training related to this task, should be the place our national political leaders can find common ground. I am hopeful that our city and region will benefit should a bold, much needed, national infrastructure investment program become reality. FDR’s WPA programs in the 1930s, and Eisenhower’s national highway system investments beginning in the 1950s were both major successes. We are long overdue for a major upgrade to America’s infrastructure.

In that regard, moving traffic in our country’s popular and heavily populated coastal communities will remain an ever increasing challenge due to constrained roads and lack of mass transit funding. In Sarasota, we have been looking into fast tracking a network of 11 roundabouts on U.S. 41 from University to Ringling to safely move an increasing volume of traffic while striving to become more pedestrian friendly. Completing this work in five or six years versus 15 or 20 could provide extremely helpful experience and data for other areas of the state and the country wrestling with similar challenges.

Like many other areas of the country, Sarasota needs to invest in replacing aging water transmission lines to provide safe, reliable and affordable drinking water to all. Here in Sarasota our major water transmission line is now over 50 years old and beginning to show its vulnerability.

Similar public works investments need to be made around the country upgrading sewerage systems to make progress cleaning up waterways and improving our fisheries.

A roads, transit, water-mains and sewerage system public works program would be a win-win-win in terms of adding safety, value and job growth to our economy while enhancing the quality of life to hometowns across America. Infrastructure programs could be especially helpful in so many of our charming but economically challenged rural communities.

Although the Thanksgiving holiday weekend provides a timely opportunity for Americans to exhale following this year’s contentious election cycle it’s also a good time to look ahead with an emphasis on hope and optimism.

I am hopeful by Thanksgiving time next year that Congress and the new Trump Administration will have designed and begun implementing the American Infrastructure Modernization (AIM) program and that we can be a part of it.

So to our friends and representatives in Washington, AIM high, or tell us why!

As always, I welcome your comments, questions and suggestions. Thank you for taking the time to read this month’s column. Forward any thoughts you may have on this or related subjects to: thomas.barwin@sarasotagov.com

Tom Barwin is Sarasota City Manager.

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