This weekend’s 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina is an enduring reminder of the importance of infrastructure, and the need for increased investment to properly maintain it. As the anniversary neared, many media outlets recounted the damages of Katrina in light of the need for a sound flood protection plan in many coastal cities. ASCE’s Managing Flood Risk Report reveals that there is still no cohesive vision of how the nation should organize or coordinate to reduce flood risk.
Another example of the need for increased investment is Texas A&M’s Transportation Institute 2015 Mobility Scorecard, revealing that congestion rates reached a new record high.
The mobility scorecard report unveils this year’s traffic congestion by region, showing the tremendous need for improvement. According to the report, travel delays due to traffic congestion in 2014 were the worst in three decades, with Washington, D.C. topping the list. The report says that nationwide, congestion kept travelers stuck in their cars for nearly 7 billion extra hours last year, or 42 hours per rush-hour commuter. This time stuck in traffic is costing us money, an estimated $160 billion in lost time, wasted fuel, and additional vehicle repairs, an average of $960 per commuter.
While traffic is still an issue, our travel woes do not compare with those before the interstate highway system was created. Interestingly enough, the story behind Eisenhower’s inspiration for an interstate highway system came about as a result of a 62-day cross-country trip he took in 1919 with a military convoy, where crossing mountains, plains and deserts made the trip quite a frustrating and even dangerous undertaking. By the end of the trip, the official observer reported later, “the officers of the Convoy were thoroughly convinced that all transcontinental highways should be construed and maintained by the Federal Government." Eisenhower’s experience with the convoy’s helped persuade legislators to pass the Townsend Highway Bill, which created the first Federal Highway Commission.
With such a rich history, and strong correlation between our highways, economy and welfare of the people, it is crucial that Congress #FixTheTrustFund by the Oct. 29 deadline—two months from now. You can write your representative a letter or call their office and share the message to #FixTheTrustFund by the Oct 29 deadline.
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