The American Society of Civil Engineers is looking to some of the industry�s biggest names in its efforts to address widespread U.S. infrastructure needs.

Meeting at the Infrastructure Solutions Summit April 25-26 in Washington, D.C., the group�s newly formed Civil Engineering Innovation Forum heard U.S. Secretary of Transportation Norman Mineta call for an increased private sector role�in building and maintaining roads.

The highway trust funds are on an unsustainable course,� Mineta said. His focus was aimed squarely at empowering the private sector to solve the nation�s highway concerns through public-private partnerships, design-build, tolling and private loans and bonds available to through SAFETEA-LU.

Felix Rohatyn, co-chair of the Commission on Public Infrastructure of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, pushed the idea of a European-style national investment corporation to help fund future infrastructure needs.

Such a corporation would be able to replace existing trust funds by issuing long-term federally guaranteed bonds, he said.

In America, as opposed to Europe, the idea of government investment as opposed to government spending is not well recognized,� he said. �It seems to me that if we are ever going to have a chance of doing something serious at a national level, we ought to have a political plan on explaining to people what this is about.

ASCE has made significant strides to raise awareness of U.S. infrastructure demands in recent years through its Report Card of America�s Infrastructure reports. At these new biannual summits, ASCE and CEFI are seeking ways to take action, said Larry Roth, deputy executive director of ASCE.

Our report cards have created awareness, but that hasn't turned into a rallying cry as a political issue,� Roth said. Issues raised at the summit will help the group create a blueprint for moving from awareness to action in the future.