If not rail and infrastructure, where should the money go?

Posted on October 22, 2010 by Alex Roman - Also by this author

A new report released this week by the Worldwatch Institute and Apollo Alliance stated that greater investment in the rail industry could essentially catapult the U.S. back to the top of the industry worldwide.

The report, "Global Competitiveness in the Rail and Transit Industry," provides data where rail manufacturing has been a boon, including Germany, Spain, Japan and China.

It notes that in those countries there are common threads to their success, including sustained long-term national investment in freight rail and transit far exceeding the $8.3 billion awarded by the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and a national vision where rail provides extensive geographic coverage; uses an integrated, uniform system of operations; and serves as an aspect of a larger intermodal solution.

So far, it seems like the U.S. at least has a vision. Whether that idea can be successful, however, is unclear since there are so many hurdles, including funding, bipartisan politics and the upcoming elections.

The biggest shame of this whole equation is that politicians are choosing to use transportation as a way to polarize voters and it seems to be working, which puts the hope of a new authorization bill or more money for transportation projects in jeopardy.

What this polarization of voters is really doing, though, is diluting the positive effects that transportation projects are having around the nation and what the further impact could be with continued federal investment. While it's not a new position, it is vital that this country finds something to get it back on its feet before it falls further behind and sinks beneath the weight of other countries' successes. 

If it's not going to be rail or transportation infrastructure, I'm wondering what you think it should be?  

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