It’s been 56 years since Dwight D. Eisenhower got the country moving with the Interstate Highway System back in 1956. The project was completed 35 years later, and later expanded again and again until it reached a total length of 47,182 miles back in 2010. It is the second longest network of roads in the world and it is falling apart.
The construction done in the 50’s was some amazing work, but we’ve made some pretty serious technological advancement since then. Most of the roads and bridges that were built then remain almost exactly the same now. General maintenance is done less often than it should be, and the highway system.
Now granted, the world is in an economic recession, and even though our country is climbing up out of it, we still have a massive deficit. Repairing roadways may not be the first thing on everyone’s mind. But maybe it should be.
The great American auto companies are back on their feet, factories are re-opening, people are buying more and more, and every economic indicator points to growth, but without safe and effective roads, our economic recovery will be stymied and all the great progress that we can make will come to a grinding halt.
But where will the money come from? Raising fuel taxes would have a catastrophic effect on many industries, trucking not least among them. The cost of tolls on our nation’s highways is already rising to the point of ridiculousness. Currently the money spent on our highways is getting stretched thinner and thinner with the rising cost of labor and materials and just throwing more money into repairs may not be helpful in the long term.
Perhaps it’s time to put to use some of that technological advancement and stop doing things the way we used to 50 years ago. We’re still using asphalt to pave our roads even though since it’s made from fossil fuels the cost has gone up astronomically. What other unnecessary or outdated procedures do we still use? Perhaps the problem is not only lack of funding for repairs, but also lack of funding for innovation.