If We Build It…

…They will come.

The weather on the east coast has been unseasonably warm. No, I’m not going to discuss global warming or, as the more politically correct like to call it, “climate change“. Far be it from me to inject a little bit of science (or common sense based on observations) here. I spend the majority of my time in New York City so my thoughts about warm weather often bring two things to mind as I make my way around the city: the damaging effects that the winter weather had on the roads and, as a subway rider, the fact that every imaginable odor known to man will soon be commingled and trapped in the heat of the NYC subway. Oh joy.

Many city’s streets aren’t like those long and winding country roads one may see on a postcard; there’s nothing idyllic about them. When city drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians twist and turn, it’s to avoid massive potholes (or some oblivious pedestrian frantically sending out that all-important text message). The crowds and prohibitive cost of parking spaces means that, whether we like it or not, the subway is a necessity. Why shouldn’t it be? With these benefits, why wouldn’t I want to take the subway or, as Newt Gingrich refers to it, my elitist form of transportation:

  • It provides warmth during the winter months. So what if it provides oppressive…OMG, it’s friggin’ BRUTAL! excessive warmth during the summer months?
  • It’s a transitional shelter. Or a shelter in transition. Or a shelter in transit. Whatever…people sleep there.
  • Some of the best bands I’ve ever seen play there. BEST.Bands.EVER.

Oh yeah, the final benefit is that it gets me where I need to go. And that’s the point.

The nation needs its roads, highways and mass transit systems overhauled. Period. If we want to simultaneously provide good jobs, help reduce the amount of smog and soot released into the environment, and further reduce our dependence on foreign oil then what better way than to improve the nation’s transportation network?

Congress seems reluctant to act on a real transportation bill but the latest news says that the Senate has reached agreement. And they should. Finally. Bipartisan support is needed to pass a comprehensive federal bill and provide states with more flexibility and authority in how they control funds that are not under federal government control.

In this country we keep talking about how we are being outpaced by other nations in terms of infrastructure improvement and development. We don’t seem to have a problem rebuilding other nations but, at some point, we need to rebuild the USA. If we don’t want to lose our global standing altogether, we’ll have to put up or shut up. That means we may have to do some sacrificing now in order to have what we need in the future, and that means redirecting our focus.

Anyone looking at the state of the nations roads can see that they’re in need of repair. News reports about train system derailments are far more common than they should be.  Fixing this? It’s a ‘no brainer’. It’s not like drivers, bicyclists and pedestrians are asking for Congress to solve problems that many people consider unresolvable.

Transportation is relatively easy. If we build it, they will come.