Thanking Our Public Works Heroes

December 15, 2021 - (3 min read)

You may have a personal image of what a superhero looks like. When I think about them, I think about the women and men in public works departments in every city across the United States. And I like what actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson said: “I’ve always seen first responders as unsung heroes and very special people because, when everyone else is running away from danger, they run into it.”

This year, in addition to their daily responsibilities, public works professionals ran towards the all-out push to get Congress to adopt the bipartisan infrastructure bill.

And they did it! Thank you!

Public works pros will now be called upon even more in 2022 to upgrade our transportation, water and sewer systems in an unprecedented fashion as historic investments from the bipartisan infrastructure law begin hitting local governments across the U.S. We know they will make us proud.

Think about the positive impact public works practitioners will have in this regard. Think about how your city’s roads and bridges will be smoother and sturdier; how your tap water will be safer to drink; how you’ll be better protected from natural disasters and cyberattacks.

Public works workers realized in 2021 that they have a voice, and elected officials are now listening.

The unprecedented infusion of billions of dollars will happen because those in Congress and the White House listened to local leaders and public works workers when they said a transformational change to improve the lives of millions of Americans across the country needed to happen.

Like the National League of Cities, APWA is planning to be there as a dependable resource for public works departments to help American towns, cities and boroughs be proactive and ready to get the infrastructure investments they need to grow their communities.

The bipartisan law represents a once-in-a-generation investment in our nation’s infrastructure.

Public works professionals are first responders because they get to work – sometimes before police and fire – whenever there is an emergency affecting public services.

If there’s a water main break in the middle of the night, they are there to fix it. Sinkhole suddenly appears? Filled and stabilized. Snowing? They plow your roads. Power outage? Power restored.

Public works departments keep our communities moving, operating and improving every day, all day, no matter the time, and regardless of the calendar or the weather.

The American Public Works Association I am privileged to lead as CEO represents more than 30,000 members in North America who plan, design, build, maintain, operate and oversee the vast infrastructure networks in America and Canada. They show up to work every day with little fanfare.

From catch basins to signalized intersections, acres of parkland to miles of sidewalk, sewer lines you cannot see and the landfills you cannot smell, public works professionals make lives better. Period.

And when they are not in the field, they are re-educating themselves about their craft and the latest technology trends.

Thank you, public works!

Thank you, also, to the National League of Cities and CEO Clarence Anthony for your work and our continuing partnership. Together, NLC and APWA will move our cities and towns to new and better heights.

About the Author:

Scott D. Grayson, CAE, is the CEO of the American Public Works Association (APWA) and the Canadian Public Works Association (CPWA).

About the Authors