The American Composites Manufacturers Association (ACMA) held its third annual Infrastructure Day on February 6-7, 2018, during which 34 ACMA members joined together to meet with over 100 Members of Congress and their staffs to advance legislation to drive federal investment in innovative material solutions for transportation, water and energy infrastructure. These meetings also stressed the importance of harnessing federal resources for standards development for innovative materials such as composites, an essential step for integrating 21st Century solutions more broadly into America’s infrastructure network.
During President Trump’s first State of the Union addresses, he called on Congress to advance his administration’s plan to repair our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. With the release of the administration’s plan being released today, the event was an aptly-timed opportunity to secure the composites industry’s stake in the policy discussion.
“While ACMA applauds this administration’s commitment to infrastructure, we need to ensure we are not wasting taxpayer dollars on failing, outdated technology that will not provide the solutions our nation needs,” said Tom Dobbins, ACMA President. “During this fly-in, our members advocated for 21st Century infrastructure improvements to be made with 21st Century materials.”
The event featured participation by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), a longstanding ally to the industry who played a critical role in the development of language in the 2016 Water Resources Development Act that supports the study of composites in waterways, dams, levies and other critical water infrastructure.
“Rhode Island is home to some of the best composite companies and craftsmen in the world, so I see firsthand the cutting-edge materials they’re making and the broad range of uses for those materials,” said Whitehouse. “Whether it’s infrastructure, marine trades, aerospace, defense, or wind energy, composites are creating new jobs and playing an important role in our economy–one that will continue to grow in the years to come.”
Infrastructure Day participants also had the opportunity to advocate for an effective rollout of the Transportation Research Board’s forthcoming study on the performance of composites used in the former Innovative Bridge Research and Construction program (IBRC). Under the IBRC, some 150 bridges around the country were built using various composite components. ACMA heavily advocated for the inclusion of the study provision in the FAST Act, signed into law late 2015.
“These events represent an outstanding opportunity for ACMA members to build new business and create opportunities in federally influenced infrastructure markets,” said Leon Garoufalis, President and COO of Composites One. “One of the many excellent benefits of our ACMA membership is the ability to engage directly with government officials who can help shape laws and standards that allow our industry to grow.”