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ATSSA president urges governors to consider its members “essential" to critical infrastructure work

ATSSA President & CEO Stacy Tetschner sent a letter to the nation’s governors today asking that the Association’s members be considered “essential critical infrastructure workers” in their respective jurisdictions under the guidelines issued March 19 by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

“On behalf of the 1,500 members of the American Traffic Safety Services Association (ATSSA), I urge you to deem road construction workers and the manufacturers of roadway safety devices and construction machinery as essential industries and workers in your state,” Tetschner wrote. “ATSSA members manufacture, distribute and install lifesaving roadway safety infrastructure devices such as traffic signs and signals, pavement markings, guardrail and cable barrier, crash cushions and work zone safety devices, among many others.

“It is critical that these sectors continue to be put to work for the safety of the traveling public and for the safety of emergency services and public safety personnel as we continue to fight this pandemic nationwide.”

Tetschner noted that each year more than 36,000 people are killed on U.S. roadways and that the work of ATSSA’s members is directly related to the safety of drivers and their passengers.

“ATSSA members manufacture and install the devices that drive these numbers toward zero. It’s critical that roadways are kept open and safe as our emergency services personnel and public safety officers ensure the safety and recovery of our nation,” Tetschner said in his letter.

Across the country, roadway workers have continued serving while following guidelines issued by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control.

The roadways are critical to getting supplies delivered around the country as many industries are shut down and health care supplies, food and other essentials are being delivered.

Christopher C. Krebs, director of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) at DHS identified “essential critical infrastructure workers during the COVID-19 response” in a March 19 memorandum.

Krebs noted that it is CISA’s responsibility to “provide strategic guidance, promote a national unity of effort, and coordinate the overall federal effort to ensure the security and resilience of the Nation's critical infrastructure.”

CISA provided its list of “essential critical infrastructure workers” to serve as guidance for state and local officials. It also can help them make decisions about which sectors and critical functions should continue operating normally to meet the needs of the nation during the pandemic.

The list covers a relatively broad range of operations and services such as “staffing operations centers, maintaining and repairing critical infrastructure, operating call centers, working construction, and performing management functions.”

Krebs notes that “the industries they support represent, but are not necessarily limited to, medical and healthcare, telecommunications, information technology systems, defense, food and agriculture, transportation and logistics, energy, water and wastewater, law enforcement, and public works.”

Tetschner is asking the governors to consider folks engaged in roadway safety infrastructure a critical piece of that work.

Krebs acknowledges that the DHS list is “advisory in nature” and that state and local authoritiesare ultimately in charge of implementing and executing response activities in communities under their jurisdiction.”

He notes that his memorandum is not a federal directive and that “these identified sectors and workers are not intended to be the authoritative or exhaustive list of critical infrastructure sectors and functions that should continue during the COVID-19 response.”

He added that “state and local officials should use their own judgment in using their authorities and issuing implementation directives and guidance.”

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