So that's the historical record - both parties working together to develop and expand the U.S. economy. Today, some observers claim that America no longer needs that sort of basic transportation infrastructure because the economy, they assert, now depends on finance and services. Yet since 1982, the amount of car and truck traffic in the nation has almost doubled, while highway capacity has grown less than 7 percent. As a result, the average driver spends 40 hours each year in traffic gridlock, nearly triple the amount of three decades ago. That's a huge drain on the national psyche as well as a huge cost to the national economy.
Fortunately, leaders of both parties are beginning to focus, once again, on transportation. From comments in the State of the Union address to multiple actions in both the House and Senate in recent days, transportation finally is in the mix. But is this just for "message" purposes to score points for the 2012 election campaigns? How will we measure today's leaders on transportation issues? Will they fumble the political football they tossed around in the past few years or put their partisan differences aside and move the country forward?
Today's leaders need to think big. They should seek inspiration from the past, from such visionaries as Hamilton, Jefferson, Lincoln and Eisenhower. Those leaders saw transportation in its proper context - as the pathway to national economic strength and power.