I commend the citizens and policymakers who fought valiantly but unsuccessfully to achieve a much better outcome than what we are left with today. Lawmakers had the opportunity to achieve transformative change. They didn’t seize it. The bipartisan bill that previously passed the Senate would have provided funds to repair structurally deficient bridges. It also imposed a needed degree of accountability on transit authorities and empowered local governments to make streets safer for all users.
In the final compromise, Congress chose to dilute some of these proposals and roll back others altogether, thereby gutting a once promising bill.
American demographics are shifting significantly and our transportation habits and needs are changing too. The new generation of Millennials — all those kids you see in your neighborhood biking and walking or staring at their smartphones on the bus — aredriving less than the previous generation, and 25 percent less than people 10 years older than them.* Within three years, over 15 million Americans above the age of 65 – for whom transportation options are essential and even life-saving – will live in communities where public transportation is poor or woefully insufficient. As Baby Boomers age, this number will only get bigger. And racial minorities, who will be the country’s majority in a few decades, are four times more likely to use public transportation to commute to work. These are the Americans we should be thinking about and building 21st century infrastructure for, yet we continue to fund and build the wrong things – highways – focusing on the needs of the loudest lobby rather than the needs of the next generation of Americans.