Massive transit repairs, aviation reform and increased desire for innovation mark this week’s infrastructure headlines.
After discussion about the D.C. subway system’s much-needed maintenance, Metro’s top officials warned the public that they may shut down entire rail lines for as long as six months. While this situation could cause inconvenience and frustration, it stands as another in a very long list of examples of the need to invest in our nation’s infrastructure. Chicago’s transit authority underwent a similar reconstruction in 2014, shutting down their red line for five months, where they invested $425 million into rebuilding 10.2 miles of rail. This ultimately resulted in increased ridership and shaved off travel time for riders. It is encouraging that transit authorities are taking time to address these issues.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS) reported on Monday that U.S. airlines and foreign airlines serving the U.S. carried an all-time high number of passengers in 2015. It is critical, therefore, that our airports are prepared to support this growing number of passengers. The Senate Commerce Committee is making steady progress on a potential bipartisan version of FAA reauthorization legislation. When the Senate returns next week, it could be among the legislation considered by the full chamber.
While maintenance for transit, aviation and our roads and bridges may not be as glamorous as new innovations, it is critical to remember that existing infrastructure needs to be coupled with new innovations. For example, self-driving cars are reportedly having issues driving on our beleaguered roads, and in some cases are unable to operate because they can’t recognize the faded road markings.
It is important that all levels of government demonstrate leadership and look for ways to ensure that our aging infrastructure gets the investment it warrants nationwide.