Turn and face the ... expansive, precise, and progressive

This column published as "Ch- Ch- Changes" in December 2019 issue

Brian W. Budzynski / December 02, 2019
Brian W. Budzynski
Any David Bowie fans out there?

If not, that title and deck are going to be a mite confusing. Give it a quick Google and hopefully find clarity.

I wanted to take the opportunity, in my last editorial column of 2019, to offer a bit of a peek into what the coming year will look like in terms of how our coverage of this industry is going to change—for the better.

First and foremost, you may have noticed—if you have perused our editorial calendar, that is—that we were slated to run one last entry in our Region Report series this month. As you make your way through this issue, you will also notice its absence. Why? A couple of reasons, primary of which is I have felt that this series, which began rather well in 2016, has since lost the thread of its purpose. Our initial aim in putting this series together was to limn the myriad challenges and opportunities that exist in specific multistate clusters of our nation. Unfortunately, as with many things that protract themselves beyond their use-by date, this series became a way station for generality and occasional conjecture. Additionally, we recently added an interactive map feature to our website, which is intended to become a state-by-state repository for our coverage, and thus moots the print series. Consequently, the Region Report was given a brief and final burial.

As we move now into 2020, our editorial attention will adjust toward concise brackets of the larger topic areas and areas of concern that I and my staff have come to understand, through numerous interactions throughout our industry, sit top-of-the-pile in the hierarchy of what is developing in the road and bridge world, what matters to those who plan, design, and build projects, and what it will mean to thrive as our industry continues to evolve.

Thus, we will give long-deserved shrift to subjects that include innovative design, mobility planning and its impact on communities and at-risk populations, diversity and equity, defining and retaining the next generation workforce, and much, much more—all while maintaining our close watch on developments and project wins in the concrete, asphalt, and bridge segments.

It is going to be an exciting year for our industry and, very likely, a trying one. The odds of a full-scale federal funding package in advance of the upcoming election are looking rather grim. The debate over the viability of a vehicle miles traveled tax plan versus an extension or expansion of the more traditional gasoline tax will be ongoing, and is likely to be a major point of contention in any funding initiative that gains real play in Congress. But projects are still pressing on. Cautious optimism is still holding, but then what’s the alternative? 

The poet Robert Frost once wrote, “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life. It goes on.” And so we shall, maintaining our cautious optimism and continuing to press forward in our never-ending endeavor to make our road and bridge network better, stronger, and capable of whatever new developments or unforeseen challenges our society has in store for it. 

That Bowie quote, by the way, is “turn and face the strange.” Change often is, but it also often brings growth along with it. 

About the Author

Budzynski is senior managing editor of Roads & Bridges.

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