Former congressman Costello to lecture about nation’s infrastructure

A major bridge collapsed in Minnesota six years ago causing 13 people to lose their lives. Three people were hospitalized after a bridge collapsed in Washington State earlier this year. A section of a bridge in Green Bay, Wis., dropped roughly three feet within the past two weeks, causing the entire bridge to close. And former congressman Jerry Costello will address those issues when he speaks on campus Tuesday evening.

Former congressman Jerry Costello will lecture about the nation's infrastructure at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the Mississippi/Illinois Room in the Morris University Center.

Costello will discuss the state of the nation’s infrastructure as part of his role as leader in residence with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute, according to political science professor Laurie Rice. The university, according to Rice, is in a partnership with the Carbondale-based institute that requires Costello to speak twice on the SIUE campus. His first speaking engagement was last semester.

The infrastructure topic is one, according to Rice, that a lot of people do not pay attention to but should.

“There are bridges and highways all over our nation that have been given failing grades by a variety of engineering groups and we’re on the edge of more disaster if we don’t do something about it,” Rice said, “and so part of this is to raise awareness about an important public policy issue, but also to hear from a member of Congress about potential solutions and what role the public can play in bringing this about.”

The significance of Costello speaking on campus is that as someone who served southern Illinois for more than two decades, he “provides a perspective that we rarely get to hear.”

“[His perspective is] from an elected official who has spent a long time in Congress and who [has] a history of working to find bipartisan solutions to problems – something that has been lacking in our current Congress and something that we need to see again,” Rice said. “So I think we can learn a lot from his perspective.”

The infrastructure topic emerged as a combination of what SIUE representatives thought would benefit a large audience and Costello’s interests and experiences, according to Rice.

Costello’s lecture last semester focused on his career and Rice said it received “a lot of interest from the campus and the community.”

“We don’t often get a chance to hear from a member of Congress who served 25 years and is able to talk about their experiences with a little bit of distance,” Rice said.

Senior political science major Robert Wann, also president of SIUE’s Political Science Association, will volunteer at Wednesday’s event. Wann attended Costello’s lecture last semester and said he enjoyed it.

“It was good to see his perspective on what is going on within our political realm current[ly],” Wann said. “It was just nice to basically see his perspective and what he thinks, especially being such a veteran within politics.”

Wann said he is looking forward to this year’s event because the political climate “always changes.”

“Especially with what we have with the government shutdown, I think [he will] have an interesting take on what’s going on… [I’m] interested to see what he says,” Wann said.

Rice said it has not been determined if the partnership with the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute will continue after Costello’s visit, but SIUE would like it to.

Costello’s lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 8, in the Mississippi/Illinois Room of the Morris University Center.

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