This is not as easy as it looks. I start out with an idea and then shift gears. After all it is Ted’s Head. I have never found a thought that I couldn’t take a totally different turn at things in a matter of seconds.
Kathy and I have traveled cross country. We have set our sights on the Sunshine State, Florida. This is really a tour with many facets. We are visiting friends and family. We hope to give our daughters some respite with kids in tow. Gammy and Padge will work overtime for a week. And finally we will spend time just like the old farts I give a hard time to with a little R and R together on Sanibel.
As we travel the miles my mind wanders endlessly. I take in the local color and industry. I am searching for that thing I call rhythm. We listen to a book on tape and I drift between plot line and the broken or dotted lines on the highway. I continually try to understand this crazy quiltwork of a country we have. Tough if you use 2000 miles as your playground.
I am looking for an issue that will tie us together. One that will unite us, not tear us apart. Aha! How can you argue with infrastructure? Roads reflect the state of the state. Forging from Missouri to Illinois is dramatic. The smooth ribbon of highway becomes pitted and uneven. Maybe this is Chicago politics on the macadam. The problems can’t be ignored.
By some stroke of genius or military luck, President Dwight D
Eisenhower championed the Interstate Highway system. We needed highways and biways to span our country north, south, east and west. Not two lanes with stop lights but non stop freeways, coast to coast. Top to bottom.
Very cool. And he said we will pay for it with a tax on gasoline. In those days it was probably 15-25% of the cost of a gallon of petrol. Seemed fair. There would be some tollways but you could now avoid them for the most part. America was on the move.
Enter Cerberus, the two headed monster of decay and inflation. Either poorly built or just getting tired, roadbeds, off ramps, and bridges had to be replaced or get some heavy duty maintenance. But kicking the can down the road wasn’t invented by our current crop of idiots. They learned from the best.
We have not changed the gas tax since 1992. Assuming it was 15% of the price of a gallon back then it now represents less than 5%.
That was twenty years ago. Automobile usage has quadrupled but with new gas efficient car, the revenues continue to plunge to the point where the national highway trust fund teeters on bankruptcy.
Now TTG is not a rocket scientist but I think I get it. Raise the tax or create tollways or both. If you use it, you pay. Duh! What a profound concept. I may get a Nobel. And yet today on the floors of the House and Senate this gets shelved and shuffled.
The bridge collapse in Minneapolis should have been a call to action. That was five friggin’ years ago. I am sorry. What was I thinking? It is in committee. For five years. We have more important things like Iraq and Afghanistan to occupy our brain trust.
Okay gang. I will go back to chilling. It’s what everyone else does. Why do you think about all that negative shit anyway, Ted? Let’s talk golf. Football. Manning. Where are we going for dinner? These are the things we should be concentrating on. Where was I in that book on tape?
Ted The Great
The Interstate Highway System is 47,000 miles long. There are 14,750 interchanges. There are 55,512 bridges. 17% or almost ten thousand are in serious disrepair.
It is estimated that 1 in 4 of bridges of all shapes and sizes are structurally deficient or functionally obsolete.
The longest interstate is I90 stretching 3020 miles from Boston to Seattle. North South the winner is I35 from Laredo to Duluth. I95 goes through 16 states. I 80, 11 states,
Our current funding for highways is $38 billion per year. We need $56 billion and climbing. But then again it is an election year.