As the pandemic (hopefully) begins to wane in the United States, the Geosynthetic Materials Association (GMA) is optimistic that the reopening of Washington, D.C., and congressional offices to in-person meetings will come alongside spring weather. GMA returns to Washington for our twice-yearly Lobby Day in May to continue our work promoting the benefits of geosynthetics to the legislative and executive branches of the federal government. The fall GMA Lobby Day 2021 used a mix of methods, including face-to-face, in-office meetings; an off-site invitation-only luncheon; and several virtual conversations. By May, we hope to be back to a full slate of in-person congressional office meetings. If the Transportation Research Board (TRB) Annual Meeting, Jan. 9–13, 2022, was any indication, Washington is increasingly ready to meet in person. Join us in May to advocate for expanded use of geosynthetics. Register on the GMA Lobby Day website.
Speaking of the TRB Annual Meeting, Bryan Gee, director of education and training for Tensar International Corp. and chair of the GMA executive council, presented updates on GMA and the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) to the TRB Standing Committee on Geosynthetics (AKG80) on Jan. 12, during the annual meeting. The IIJA includes language that expands on GMA requests from last fall and directs the secretary of transportation to designate 10 regional Transportation Resilience and Adaptation Centers of Excellence (Section 13009), to advance research and development that improves the resilience of the United States to natural disasters, extreme weather, and the effects of climate change on surface transportation infrastructure and infrastructure dependent on surface transportation. GMA is working to ensure that IIJA funds are appropriated by Congress to implement these Centers of Excellence. We are also working to have one or more of the centers designated as a Geosynthetic Sustainability Institute (this was the original language request), to create an independent entity promoting the resilient benefits of geosynthetics. The presentation generated tremendous interest and discussion on this exciting opportunity for the geosynthetics industry