The issue of fixing the nation’s infrastructure (roads, highways, and bridges in need of repair) has steadily gained traction within in the past decade or so. If you haven’t heard much about it, well, the need to do so has hit home in our state in the form of the current problems with I-65.

This problem isn’t going to go away, so sooner or later, something will have to be done about it. While we’re having this debate, however, we should consider another factor going forward.

A recent study named Chicago and Northwest Indiana one of the ten worst regions for traffic congestion in the country. The list is made up of other major metropolitan centers nationwide. The study also concludes that congestion has only gotten worse over time.

Just fixing our transportation infrastructure wouldn’t eliminate these traffic issues, which not only make for more time spent in the car for drivers, but also compound the amount of car exhaust spewing into the atmosphere due to vehicles running for longer. So instead of merely fixing it and keeping it the way it is, this is a prime opportunity to drastically remake our transportation infrastructure.

How so? Well, turning public transit systems from mostly a city thing into a suburban thing would be a good start. High-speed rail lines between major metro centers is a good idea, too.

But, this all won’t happen. Undertakings like these would take time, effort, and, most importantly, money, and when was the last time people were supportive of a tax, even if the thing it was paying for would arguably benefit them? Heck, the reason even necessary infrastructure repair has moved so slowly is because it would require raising the gas tax, which pays for it.

My guess is that at some point, we’ll see a major infrastructure repair plan, when the problem is too big to ignore anymore.  Hopefully, that will happen before another tragedy like the I-35 bridge collapse in Minnesota, which seemingly jumpstarted this debate in 2007.

But wouldn’t it be nice if people were more willing to work together toward long-term and ambitious but beneficial projects, instead of only going for what’s most convenient for them in the short run?

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