By Mark Holan, editorial director, ARTBA
Investing in roads, bridges and other transportation infrastructure has always been and remains the best way to build America’s economic, political, military, strategic and social strength, according to a new book by journalist, thought leader, and U.S. domestic policy expert James P. Pinkerton. A Vision of American Strength: How Transportation Infrastructure Built the United States is a project of ARTBA’s Transportation Makes America Work® program, which is aimed at building public and political support for increased surface transportation investment.
In the book, Pinkerton observes that “the history of civilization is the history of infrastructure.” He shows how the nation’s leaders understood this concept even before the American Revolution. Young George Washington developed road and canal routes. Alexander Hamilton helped enshrine the power to “regulate commerce” and “establish Post Offices and post Roads” in the U.S. Constitution. This belief fueled the growth of “American Strength” through the 19th and 20th centuries, in both Republican and Democratic administrations: Abraham Lincoln and the Transcontinental Railroad; Theodore Roosevelt and the Panama Canal; Franklin D. Roosevelt and the Works Progress Administration, which built a wide range of infrastructure projects; and Dwight Eisenhower and the Interstate Highway System.
But bipartisan support for infrastructure investment began to fracture in the 1970s, Pinkerton writes in American Strength. On the left, the environmental movement got the better of pro-growth Democrats. On the right, libertarian ideologues convinced Republicans to starve government and turn public works into private projects.
Pinkerton argues that “a new and comprehensive infrastructure vision is needed now, more than ever.” This key to economic prosperity and American Strength should not be politically controversial, with “more common ground between the parties on transportation infrastructure than on most other domestic or foreign issues.” Boosting investments in transportation infrastructure and developing new “Critical Commerce Corridors” to move goods are potential solutions for rebuilding America.
Purchase A Vision of American Strength: How Transportation Infrastructure Built the United States for $11.31