On the Road Again: Fixing America’s Infrastructure

There is no road ahead for America without the roadways of America: the literal highways that form our Interstate Highway System. Those highways are the great achievement of President Eisenhower and a chance for our current president to achieve greatness in his own right. Repairing those highways would be a stroke of genius by President Trump.

These highways run longer than any river or railroad. They traverse the country with almost twice the mileage of the circumference of the earth—and they will collapse into the earth, bigger than the biggest sinkhole in history, unless we undertake one of the biggest military missions in history.

This is a military mission because the Interstate Highway System is the result of Eisenhower’s insistence on defending the nation from all enemies, foreign and domestic. It was then, and is now, an inseparable part of our personal freedom and our national independence; because a country that does not know itself cannot begin to protect itself, not when it allows that which connects the country to secede from the States through neglect and mismanagement. The preservation of that highway system echoes not from the road, but from the rostrum, where President Trump said: “We will build new roads, and highways, and bridges, and airports, and tunnels, and railways all across our wonderful nation.”

Those roads are wonderful things. They never cease to attract the attention of adventurers even after the adventure ceases; as the roads do cease, when they merge elsewhere or end where there is nowhere else to go, while the journey continues—the cause endures on the page and on the stage—introducing us to characters as romantic as any riverboat captain and as solemn as any solitary man.

The story thrives on the radio, where the needle on the AM dial receives the voice of a journeyman of the airwaves; the DJ and raconteur who, between changing records and breaking for a word from his sponsors, tells hour-long tales that last for many more hours, in the hearts and minds of listeners, as the miles pass and the hours go by.

This fabulist has no script, which makes his performance all the more impressive, since there is an epic quality to the way he talks. He is a monologist who uses his studio as a campfire, making the radio panel glow wherever the signal reaches a driver; wherever that signal fills the interior of a car with the sound of everyone’s favorite uncle, of the narrator of a series of stories about family trips gone awry and holidays gone haywire, where the host’s “old man” does battle with a variety of foes, from a blasted basement furnace to a pack of mongrel dogs.

His talk entertains us, while talk radio engages us. Both are products of the highway, because there is no Rush (Limbaugh) without rush hour. There is no talk, period, without that ribbon of highway and that endless skyway. This land is not your land—this land is not our land—without the Interstate Highway System that was made for you and me.

This land is no land, then, for scenes about ingénues and ennui. Nor is it the place for an actress who wants to feel the rhythm of the fast lane and ride the rapids of the freeway. Not unless she plans to play a soldier or spy who races through the streets of Baghdad or Basra, where she dodges rocket-propelled grenades and sniper fire, while she drives from some pockmarked shell of an apartment building to a safe house on the outskirts of town. Not unless her car has the shocks of a monster truck, because our highways can inflict as much damage as any improvised explosive device.

President Eisenhower would not recognize these highways, were he alive today, because he would sooner diagnose himself with battle fatigue than accept this attack on his legacy. He would not be wrong to think so, given the transformation of America from the landscape of the victor into the homeland of the vanquished.

This assault from within threatens our physical safety and our fiscal solvency. It forces drivers to turn around, while local businesses see no turnaround in sight. It proves the obvious; that a nation cannot be great if its infrastructure is in gruesome shape; that an external blight can worsen into an economic burden; that an internal crisis can become a source of international condemnation.

We ruin the greatness of America when we run roughshod over the legends of America. When we turn the dream of the open road into a nightmare of road closures and foreclosure signs. When the freedom to drive anywhere yields to the fear of never leaving our driveways. We become, in a way, less American.

The hope of a better road ahead must sustain us, provided we uphold the promise to restore our most important roads. Those roads are the lifeblood of the last best hope of earth. They link the beauty of America with the bounty of America, from sea to shining sea.

It would be a disgrace to let those roads deteriorate further. It is a disgrace to have permitted the slow undoing of those roads, year after year, until all the hopes of future years depend on what we do this year.

Good, in this respect, is not good enough. Not when the price of greatness is responsibility. Not when it is our responsibility to make America great again.

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13 responses to “On the Road Again: Fixing America’s Infrastructure

  • Beautifully written, and well said. Thank you for inspiring us about the Infrastructure Project!!! Part of the reason I was so excited about President Trump is that he is a BUILDER. I live in Texas, where our roads are legendary even in America. I remember when Interstate 35 was built in my hometown when I was a child – you would have thought they were building the pyramids. And as you so well point out, they were building something even better. The past couple of years, we have travelled the El Camino East-West Corridor – US Hwy 84 – we pick it up 12 miles from our home in Central Texas, and follow it all the way to about 10 miles from our son’s home in Georgia. It is different in each state, two lane in some, 4 lane in others, but still scenic, and low-stress, with little traffic thanks to low speed limits.

  • I must respectfully disagree. Inland waterways, upgrade our freight railways, THEN the interstate highway system. A lot of our commerce could move faster and cheaper, reducing the strain on the roads.
    Hopefully,the God-Emporer Will further reduce regulatory requirements. As has been pointed out before, we haven’t had a major national infrastructure program since the regulations of the 60s and early 70s.
    To help pay for it? A .10%tax on all commodities and real estate transactions. I sell 400 bushels of corn at$3 A bushel, $1200×.1=$1.20 for infrastructure. A copper contract is sold for $500,000=$500 for infrastructure. A house is sold for $140,000=$140 for infrastructure.
    Just my 2 cents.

  • Ike was neither a saint nor a prophet. He was a Cold War President who first made the decision to accept the entire New Deal package, thus killing off the old Republican Party, and then using the wonderfully attractive combination of PERSONAL FREEDOM–four cars in every garage; coast to coast without a stoplight; endless back seat adventures–and NATIONAL SECURITY–get troops to south Florida with lightning speed in 1962–to get the largest public works/welfare program in human history through a Congress drunk with prosperity and fear of the Russians. And, one may add, absolutely no thought for the long term costs, or for the moral decision to tie America to the automobile for at least a couple of centuries. How many times over have we already paid for I-95? And we have no rail system, the easiest and cheapest way to move goods yet devised by the mind of man. The open road is romantic, and still inspires a certain amount of eloquence, but we must learn to get hard-headed about infrastructure.

    • Good point on the railway system. Parts of our railway system was deliberately dismantled by a consortium of Rubber, Tire and Auto companies in the early 20th century in order to make America car oriented.

  • I am glad Mr. Hamilton touched on the issue that our highway system was originally built in the 1950’s for dual use. The Military use being rapid movement to any point in the continental US. That would be the only justification for this mammoth project when the number of cars privately owned did not justify it.
    Trump’s trillion dollar infrastructure development will include consumption of steel produced in the US. In order to make steel one needs Coal and by that the Coal industry is boosted.
    Another area of our infrastructure is electricity. Under Obama energy plants were shut down. New ones were not built. We have not built a nuclear plant since 3 mile island.
    Production of electricity which stands at 96 Quadrillion btu’s is not sufficient to meet a rising demand. Recently we had a black out in Atlanta. Projections are black outs could become more frequent. That would be a fatal danger, a security risk and an impediment to attracting business.
    Since we are a computer driven economy electricity is one of the basic aspects of our infrastructure that Trump has to quickly address.

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  • What happened to all those shovel ready jobs that President Neglect Obama, touted that would repair our infrastructure?
    In eight years he doubled our National Debt, and what do we have to show for it?
    If he spent all that money on repair of the infrastructure, why do we still need those repairs now more than ever?
    AND, liberals STILL think he was a GREAT President!
    What a bunch of idiots, useful to the Democrat Party, useless to America.

    • The bigO was trying to buy votes, from bloodsucking fools.

  • What about the pols and bureau crats, that FAILED IN THEIR JOBS, WHICH INCLUDED maintaining the USA infrastructure

  • All banter about a fantasy of infrastructure ignores the robber barons just engorged themselves with a Trillion dollar deficit tax give away.

  • Interstate highways and railways are historically legitimate infrastructures for federal funding but ideally state projects should adhere to the “user pays” principle. Otherwise, “boondoggle” projects occur that are nothing more than jobs programs. So continued funding for California’s euphemistic “high speed rail project” should be discontinued and California, which runs perpetual deficits in budget, water and energy, should totally fund its own rail project. Yes, there are federal dams in California as part of the Central Valley Project and for the most part they have been maintained and upgraded for public safety (e.g., Folsom Dam). But, as we saw in the Oroville Dam near-disaster, California has allocated money for safety upgrading of its dams despite spending like $20 billion on five water bonds in the past decade (most of which went to “environmental” projects). Dam safety doesn’t buy votes, makeshift environmental jobs do. Subsidizing California’s infrastructure is just an indirect way to plug the $1 trillion pension fund deficit. So, yes, infrastructure reflects “America’s Greatness”, but not “Golden State-ness”.

  • Remember when the gasoline taxes which were raised over and over at both the federal and state levels were supposed to pay for road maintenance and the states deemed that cars must be registered (taxed again) in order to help pay for road maintenance? I wonder where all of that money went….

    Semper Fi,

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