Life After Concrete

Seventy five percent of Americans favor expanding public transit, and building communities that stimulate walking, biking, and other alternatives to the automobile, rather than perpetually expanding roads to solve traffic congestion, according to a new report prepared jointly by the National Association of Realtors and Smart Growth America.

But that isn't stopping the entrenched bureaucrats from pushing ahead with super costly new road and highway projects at the expense of the mass transit project a growing majority of citizens say is necessary.

The Indiana Department of Transporation is pouring buckets of money to plan for construction of the I69 highway.

The Michigan Department of Transporation is slowly implementing a $400 million plus plan to expand the I196 highway through downtown Grand Rapids.

And Wisconsin is debating the most expensive highway expansion in state history.

"You have a couple billion dollars now going into freeway expansion at a time when we're also trying to figure out ways to reduce auto travel because of the use and cost of oil and the impacts on our climate," Steve Hiniker, executive director of 1000 Friends of Wisconsin, told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel yesterday.

"We have to take a deep breath and figure out how we're going to build a multimodal system, instead of just pouring concrete."

Mr. Hiniker's comments, like the recent realtors report cited above, illustrate how public sentiment has steadily and quietly jumped way ahead of government planning and spending when it comes to transportation.

What's at stake for central cities, states, and the nation in the 21st century is economic competitiveness, ecological sustainability, social wellbeing, and homeland security.