What happens to the hundreds of thousands of roadway miles not maintained? And what happens to the tens of thousands of bridges that we don’t fix? Nobody knows because there is no plan.
What there is a plan to do is to build even more. The bipartisan infrastructure bill has supercharged highway and bridge building, pumping hundreds of billions of dollars into existing programs that are designed to do just that: build more highways and bridges.
More ribbon cuttings with smiling politicians. More press releases touting progress. More fiddling while Rome burns.
This farce needs to end.
We need to restore faith in our institutions, to show that the government is competent enough to maintain the essential infrastructure systems our nation relies on. The first step—the only logical thing we can do right now—is to stop building more.
We can debate the second step. There needs to be a lot of discussion, at every level of government, about the series of policy changes that need to come about to manage and maintain a mature transportation system, which is what we now have. We might not agree on the second step, but we can all agree on the first:
Until we have a credible plan for maintaining our existing transportation infrastructure, we must stop building more roads and bridges.
Every new lane mile we build adds to our backlog of future transportation costs. Every bridge or interchange we construct makes our fiscal insolvency worse. No matter how important you think your local project is, that project is making your transportation system worse off.
It’s making us all worse off.
You can support the End Highway Expansions campaign, and our other efforts to make our cities, towns, and neighborhoods stronger and more prosperous, by becoming a member of Strong Towns.