NAPA News & Events

Celebrating Construction: A Capitol Idea

AEM’S construction celebration on the National Mall will showcase roadbuilding equipment in the nation’s capital.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (AEM) is bringing its members’ machines to America’s front yard in Washington, D.C. May 14-16 for the first-ever Celebration of Construction on the National Mall.

NAPA subject matter experts will staff a booth as part of the celebration, which aims to echo the successful advocacy and public outreach efforts of the 2022 Celebration of Modern Agriculture on the National Mall.

That inaugural event brought tractors, harvesters, and more to the National Mall, best known as the greenspace maintained by the National Park Service in and around Washington’s famous monuments and museums. This year, it’s the construction industry that will stage its equipment for the public to see up close what goes into building the nation’s infrastructure.

NAPA Vice President for Government Affairs Nile Elam said for some in Congress and their staff, this may be their first experience seeing these massive machines up close.

“A lot of folks in our industry may take for granted just how cool it is to see this equipment and see it up close,” he said. “For a lot of members of Congress and their staff, they’re seeing it for the first time. Maybe they have driven by it as they moved past a construction site, but they are probably not appreciating what it is and what it can do.”

Elam said the display on the National Mall, just blocks from the Capitol office buildings where staffers work each day, means lawmakers and aides can see firsthand the state-of-the-art equipment used to make the roads they drive, bike, and walk on every day.

“It’s great that we’re going to have that kind of showcase,” Elam said. “We’ll have this living billboard on the National Mall where folks from regulatory agencies and the Hill can stop by and meet some industry folks and not only learn about this equipment, but why it’s important and what NAPA members are doing to execute their jobs better, and ensure tax dollars and environmental stewardship are improved each and every day.”

Learning about more efficient processes, environmentally friendly improvements, and how new machines are able to work longer and faster will introduce public visitors to the effort that goes into their roads, Elam said.

“This equipment helps expedite a road that can be repaired sooner for an overnight crew, as well as improve air emissions, making a safer process for not only the motoring public, but for the men and women who work at those work sites,” he said.

Members of Congress can also see the amount of investment roadbuilders make into their craft, which explains why multi-year highway bills are more beneficial than temporary extensions.

“Short-term extensions for highway surface transportation bills don’t work for an industry like ours where members have already accounted for 2023 and they’re looking at summer 2024 or the 2025 paving season,” he said. “The entire industry can take a pat on the back for what IIJA accomplished, but before you know it, that bill will be expiring as we get to 2026. You plant those seeds now because for a lot of these members of Congress, that will be their first real highway transportation bill. A photo opportunity may be beneficial, but at the end of the day they’ve got to make sure the government helps pay for it, too, so we have to build that support now.”

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