Building broad coalitions, developing strong partnerships with the governor, state legislators and public agency officials, and creating an integrated communications plan that delivers consistent messages to the public about the value and benefits of the resulting infrastructure improvements are three keys to success in boosting transportation investment at the state and local level.
Those were among the consistent messages delivered by speakers July 16 during the inaugural “National Workshop for State & Local Transportation Advocates,” held at the Washington Court Hotel in the Nation’s Capitol. Transportation construction executives, “better roads and transportation” professionals, state legislators, and chamber of commerce officials from 22 states participated in the event, which was hosted by ARTBA’s Transportation Investment Advocacy Center (TIAC).
ARTBA Chief Economist Alison Premo Black highlighted trends in state transportation investment initiatives since 2000. Public affairs executives and policy shapers detailed “what worked” and “lessons learned” on legislative proposals in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and ballot initiatives in Georgia and Arkansas. Panelists from Stratacomm, Ipsos Public Affairs and Purple Strategies also explained the importance of utilizing public opinion research and implementing effective advertising and messaging strategies.
Oregon State Sen. Bruce Starr, who also serves as the 2014 National Council of State Legislatures president, offered participants advice on how to make transportation investment a top priority for elected officials. Matt Girard, Plenary Concessions chief operating officer, provided a “101 course” overview of P3s, payment mechanisms and current opportunities in the U.S. P3 market.
At the workshop’s conclusion, ARTBA Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer Bill Toohey announced the launch of a Transportation Investment Advocates Council that will create a network of advocates throughout the country to share experiences and best practices.
TIAC is anchored by a comprehensive Web site www.transportationinvestment.org, which features 39 detailed case studies of recent transportation funding campaigns — both successful and unsuccessful — mounted in 28 states. It includes the actual television, radio and print ads, polling data, and media and coalition strategies used in the campaigns. The site includes a blog with new developments and economic-based research and messaging developed by ARTBA to help frame the political debate.