National Public Works Week turns 50

This week marked the 50th Anniversary of National Public Works Week (NPWW).

The American Public Works Association (APWA) sponsors the week each year to recognize the vitally important contributions of public works professionals and the important role infrastructure, facilities and services play in the quality of life for all citizens in the U.S. and Canada.

To mark this year’s golden anniversary, cities, towns, counties, districts, and APWA chapters have held public events and celebrations.

During the past five decades, National Public Works Week observances have included a wide variety of activities, from displays of public works equipment to high school essay contests, open houses, media events, and programs for civic organizations. The first National Public Works Week was instituted in 1960 as a public education campaign under the Chairmanship of Rear Admiral Cushing, U.S.N. (Retired), who was then the President of the Los Angeles Board of Public Works. At that time, the NPWW mission was to foster better understanding of the function and the importance of public works in modern community life.

Later, federal recognition has included letters of acknowledgment from Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower, Lyndon B. Johnson and George W. Bush, and a Presidential Proclamation signed by John F. Kennedy in 1962. Over the years, the US Senate and House of Representatives have recognized the week and the people who serve public works by approving resolutions affirming the importance of public works.

“Not unlike 50 years ago, our members throughout the U.S. and Canada will celebrate the key role public works professionals play in the sustainability of our communities,” said APWA President Larry Koehle, P. Eng., MPA, in a press release. “National Public Works Week is about honoring the men and women in public works who provide and maintain our transportation and water systems, utilities, emergency response operations, and other essential infrastructure every day of the week.”

This year, proclamations of support have been approved by numerous states, provinces and local communities. In addition, a U.S. Senate resolution (S. Res. 484) designated the week to pay tribute to the dedicated efforts of public works professionals, including engineers and administrators, who design, build, operate and maintain the public works infrastructure in state and local governments.

“APWA applauds and thanks the cosponsors of the Senate resolution, Senate Environment and Public Works Committee Chairwoman Barbara Boxer and Ranking Member James Inhofe, for recognizing the key role of public works professionals in our local communities,” said Koehle.

In celebration of National Public Works Week, APWA urges individuals and organizations to join with representatives of the Federal, State, Provincial and local governments in recognition activities and ceremonies designed to pay tribute to public works professionals, and to recognize their substantial contributions.