A lot has happened in the past year since we named our first 50 Trendsetters. The transportation bill passed (finally!). The Department of Homeland Security saw a changing of the guard. The standoff in Iraq continued. And 50 more people made a huge impact on the public works industry.

The 2005 Trendsetters recognized here are heralded—and occasionally chastised—for significantly affecting our industry over the past year. These 50 “superheroes” have risen to the top by showing leadership in the public works community, defining public policy or signing a new law, bringing their community or an important issue into the spotlight, developing a unique product, or setting an industry standard.

Some on this list are being recognized for the good that they do in their community. Mark Buscaino, for example, has hammered home the importance of managing the urban forest better. The reuse group Freecycle is heralded for decreasing the amount placed in landfills by setting up an Internet swap for unwanted junk. Gov. Christine Gregoire now is requiring many new and renovated public buildings in her state of Washington to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) requirements

And some that we've recognized as Trendsetters stand out because of the negative impact they've had on our lives. For example, the city of Chicago has seen some major upsets at the top of its public service departments, namely due to poor—and possibly corrupt—business practices. Other negative nominations didn't make it on this list. We originally had listed hurricanes Katrina and Rita, but realized that some incredible people (such as those on the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans) really had set a trend for a cool head in a time of crisis, so we kept a positive spin on it.

These 50 Trendsetters are listed alphabetically once again, since we couldn't possibly rank them. Whether good or bad, you'll learn a lot about those who truly are impacting our industry and our daily lives. If you know of a public works superhero you think we've overlooked, send us a note and we'll consider them for next year.