July 10, 2015
In the 1950’s president Dwight D. Eisenhower looked into the future and understood that if the United States was to modernize and stay a nation of innovation and technological excellence it would need a strong federal transportation infrastructure. Under his leadership, $10 billion had been invested in interstates and 10,440 miles or 25 percent of the Interstate System had been opened to traffic.
Sixty years later, there is a general agreement that America’s infrastructure once again needs significant investment and improvement. Yet infrastructure investments on a national level are at a 70-year low. The current surface transportation law (MAP-21) must be reauthorized to see these infrastructural maintenance and new improvements be undertaken.
According to Speaker John A. Boehner, fixing U.S. infrastructure is “critically important”. According to the department of transportation freight bottlenecks and aviation delays alone have cost the economy $232.9 billion dollars a year. This is equivalent to over 1% of the gross domestic product. Furthermore a majority of bridges and highways in America are decades past their original designed life expectancy.
The lack of investment in infrastructure poses the threat of decreased safety, exorbitant inefficiency, and even displacing our economic viability for foreign investment and focus as a leader in international business.
Solutions like the Main Street Partnership offer a road map for Republicans and Democrats to work together to tackle the most pressing transportation and infrastructure needs. From investing in roads and bridges, modernizing our energy infrastructure, to addressing growing broadband and cybersecurity issues, Congress should not allow partisan politics to prevent them from addressing the important issues at hand. Yet many wonder, among all the issues at stake vying for attention, whether or not this is of high priority in the battle for allocation of federal funds. It can be argued that other initiatives and avenues of development are more worthy of such intensive investment. It will be interesting to see what the future holds for American infrastructure as competing viewpoints come to the table to find the most viable solution.