Show Us Yer Stuff

Warning: This column suggests you do more work for no additional pay. But since that's a reality you face daily, I'm going to take a chance and throw this one out at you.

Actually, if you want anyone to blame, contact Al Du Bois in the municipal recycling department of Clifton, N.J.

When he called to tell me the city's grassroots litter-removal campaign won a U.S. Department of the Interior "Take Pride in America" award, I thought of my recent experience as a judge for the American Society of Civil Engineers' (ASCE) Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement award.

ASCE sponsors a plethora of programs honoring exemplary engineers and their achievements. But the Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement program is the only award that recognizes projects based on their contribution to the well-being of residents and the community as a whole.

Each of the more than 20 entries represented the best aspects of human ingenuity, and choosing a winner was like being forced to name a favorite child.

After much deliberation, we chose five finalists and a winner, which will be announced April 30, 2008. The finalists are:

  • The Washington State Department of Transportation's new Tacoma Narrows Bridge,
  • The rehabilitation of Pasadena, Calif.'s 81-year-old city hall,
  • San Diego's light-rail transit line,
  • The unraveling of a major bottleneck for drivers in Washington, D.C., and
  • An arsenic-removal project in West Bengal, India.

In December, PUBLIC WORKS magazine will feature its fourth annual Department of the Year. Like ASCE, the American Public Works Association (APWA) recognizes outstanding infrastructure projects each year. APWA also recognizes 10 infrastructure managers every year.

But PUBLIC WORKS' is the only program that recognizes how public works ensures the safety of residents each and every day, not just during emergencies; attracts businesses and other investment with smooth roads, consistent traffic flow, pretty parks, well-trimmed and garbage-free rights of way, and out-of-sight/out-of-mind wastewater treatment. Ours is the only program that understands the achievement that a well-run infrastructure department represents.

Having submitted Public Works for editorial and magazine design awards, I know how labor-intensive preparing an entry can be. Because we appreciate that you already don't have enough hours in the day, our entry form looks for substance over form. As infrastructure managers themselves, our judges care more about your department's stewardship capabilities than its presentation skills.

Entries are due Sept. 3, 2008 (click here for the entry form). Your team could join the ranks of Fort Wayne, Ind., Glendale, Calif., and Norfolk, Va. in showing what infrastructure professionals are capable of.

Stephanie Johnston, Editor in Chief
Editor in Chief