ICPI hails highway bill’s permeable pavers provision

Source: Interlocking Concrete Pavement Institute, Herndon, Va.

Included in the language of the new MAP-21 highway funding legislation are the first-ever permeable pavements provisions, which were conceived by ICPI and offered for consideration on Capitol Hill. In doing so, ICPI has created new law, and established that permeable pavements are now a technology for use under the auspices of the U.S. Transportation Department.

The permeable pavements provision will grant the U.S. Secretary of Transportation authority to conduct work on pavers. This is the first instance in which permeable pavements have been specifically added to the authority of the U.S. Secretary of Transportation. Further, the permeable pavements language adds concerns such as stormwater runoff and flood control to the Secretary’s values to address at USDOT. Pavers provide major advantages in mitigating stormwater runoff and flood mitigation. ICPI will make efforts to work closely with USDOT in developing an implementation plan to promote the use of pavers in transportation applications.

The permeable pavements language will authorize and task the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to conduct research and technology transfer activities using permeable pavements, take advantage of the benefits of permeable pavements that reduce stormwater runoff, improve water quality and restore construction areas to original hydrology using terms offered by ICPI and which tend to target permeable benefits.

Passage of the new law culminates a 15-month comprehensive strategy of intensive, highly targeted lobbying by ICPI to use the Transportation Bill as a vehicle to promote pavers in federal transportation policy. Many in Washington, D.C., assumed that the Transportation Bill would fail to pass prior to the 2012 elections due to partisan bickering. However, ICPI’s judgment reached the opposite conclusion. Thus, the Transportation Bill became ICPI’s prime area of concentration. “Early last year, ICPI’s leadership calculated that the Transportation Bill would become the only ‘Jobs Bill’ to gain bipartisan support in this election cycle,” said Randy Pence, ICPI’s Government Relations Counsel. “Sometime in 2012, it would gain momentum and become the vehicle for other popular issues needed for the election.”

After developing the legislative proposal with the input of its members, ICPI worked very closely with certain key Members of Congress to develop their appreciation for the public policy benefits of pavers. In particular, ICPI cultivated the assistance of Rep. John Mica (R-FL), and Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) with meetings on Capitol Hill and technical briefings off the Hill. In the case of Senator Vitter, ICPI hosted a paver demonstration in his home state of Louisiana.

In a timely and coordinated grassroots lobbying effort, ICPI members made constituent calls to Senators Scott Brown (R-MA) and Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) to broaden Senate support to the Vitter effort. ICPI included substantial use of grassroots lobbying, Legislative Alerts, site visits and political activity in support of the lobbying effort. In all cases, ICPI’s actions were focused on achieving specific tactical objectives on the pathway toward final passage with the permeable pavements provisions.

ICPI was able to improve its chances by persuading both the House and the Senate to include the identical permeable pavements language in each of their respective bills, a procedural tactic that greatly increases the likelihood of a successful outcome.