by Tony Lucadomo
America’s transportation infrastructure is in a state of disrepair, and existing policy is unable to meet the nation’s current and future needs. The shortcomings of our transportation infrastructure are well known. The state of the nation’s roads, bridges, ports, and railways is unacceptable. Social and economic costs abound. Only with strong presidential leadership can we tackle this issue and move forward.
Earlier this year, the Miller Center at the University of Virginia organized the David R. Goode Conference on Transportation Policy to tackle the problem. The event brought together leaders from across the policy community to devise a strategic framework that fosters progress. The result is a series of recommendations aimed at getting us back on track.
First, transportation funding should be immune to economic cycles. Infrastructure spending is often seen as superfluous in a time of fiscal constraint, but that narrative is disingenuous. Without continuous investment, our economy suffers and likelihood of ever getting away from times of fiscal constraint diminishes. Thus, it is precisely in these times of downturn that such outlays must be made.
Second, a public relations effort is warranted. President George H.W. Bush famously said that he had three main domestic priorities: “jobs, jobs, jobs.” The message resonated, support expanded, and as part of a broader initiative the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) soon followed. With the right public relations, the White House enacted transformative reform. A similar re-branding is called for today.