Memorial Day weekend has arrived, and with it a dramatic a reminder of the congested and worn out state of our surface transportation infrastructure.
As people take to the roads in order to reach their Memorial Day weekend destinations, reports predict that congestion will be at an 11-year peak. According to AAA, more than 38 million Americans are expected to travel this Memorial Day weekend, and the agency credits this dramatic number to decreased gas prices. Air travel is also expected to increase 1.6 percent over last year, with 2.6 million Americans taking flights, but travel by other modes of transportation is expected to decrease by 2.3 percent. “What we’re seeing is that the demand for travel is greater than ever — but that leads to the question of whether our transportation infrastructure is equipped to support that job-creating activity,” said Roger Dow, president and chief executive officer of the U.S. Travel Association.
In response to the dubious question of whether our infrastructure can handle increased travel, the media continues to hone in on dire infrastructure conditions and investment needs. CNN published articles about bridge conditions, exposing 90-year-old beams that are disintegrating under bridges due to lack of maintenance, as well as rail systems, which are increasingly plagued with failing power cables. Clearly our surface infrastructure as a whole needs diligent attention.
In order to improve our commutes and salvage our bridges and railroads from further damage, it is important that local, state and federal governments work together to find long-term, sustainable funding that will allow for such improvement.