I was taken by a great press release that came from the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA). They note that on Sept. 17, 1787, delegates to the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia signed the historic document they had created. ARTBA is using the 228th anniversary of the U.S. Constitution signing to remind Congress that Article One, Section Eight, makes support for transportation infrastructure investment a core federal government responsibility. It’s time, ARTBA said, for Congress to fix the Highway Trust Fund.
The continued stonewalling of a Highway Bill by this Congress is an affront to the Constitution. Also, I have not heard one substantive discussion of this issue by any of the candidates and pretenders who have thus far participated in the presidential debates.
Alexander Hamilton said: “The improvement of the roads would be a measure universally popular. None can be more so. For this purpose a regular plan should be adopted, coextensive with the Union, to be successfully executed, and a fund should be appropriated sufficient … To provide roads and bridges is within the direct purview of the Constitution.”
John Madison noted: “Among the means of advancing the public interest, the occasion is a proper one for recalling the attention of Congress to the great importance of establishing throughout the country the roads and canals which can best be executed under the national authority. No objects within the circle of political economy so richly repay the expense bestowed on them.”
Benjamin Franklin challenged legislators: “And have we not all these taxes too … and our provincial or public taxes besides? And over and above, have we not new roads to make, new bridges to build … and a number of things to do that your fathers have done for you, and which you inherit from them, but which we are obliged to pay for out of our present labor?”
And George Washington, who presided over the Constitutional Convention, said: “The credit, the saving, and the convenience of this country all require that our great roads leading from one public place to another should be straightened and established by law … To me, these things seem indispensably necessary.”
So chew on that for awhile, legislators and wannabe presidents.