This week we celebrate two major birthdays—and they are more connected than you may realize. Aside from being Independence Day weekend, this week also marks the 60th birthday of the Interstate Highway System. While giving homage to our nation’s freedom, what better time to also reflect on our nation’s infrastructure?
Our 60-year-old highway system represents an infrastructure accomplishment that unfortunately has not been well maintained. While it’s noteworthy that our interstate highway system has lasted 60 years, the federal gas tax has not kept up with inflation and the FAST Act will only provide five years of funding.
In spite of our highway system’s need for maintenance, Americans continue to depend upon it. This holiday weekend, AAA predicts that nearly 43 million Americans will travel, representing the highest number of July 4th travelers on record. “Spurred by the lowest gas prices since 2005, more people than ever are planning to travel this Independence Day weekend,” said Marshall Doney, AAA President and CEO.
Having such a need for improved infrastructure, the American public are not neutral to the needs of their highways. According to a recent survey, more than 50 percent of Americans are willing to pay more at the pump if the revenue is invested in specific transportation improvements. Without modernized infrastructure, our nation may one day not have the same ease of mobility that it currently enjoys with the interstate highway system.
So what does the interstate highway have to do with our nation’s independence? From businesses to families, the freedom to prosper economically and move around efficiently is highly dependent on well-maintained and dependable infrastructure. That is why it is critical that local, state and federal governments work together to find long-term, sustainable funding solutions that enable us to improve our nation’s infrastructure.