Just in time for Memorial Day -- when millions of travelers are vigilantly preparing for dreaded traffic congestion -- I had the opportunity to interview former Senator Jim Talent of Missouri about America's infrastructure problems.
Talent is co-chairman (former Michigan Governor John Engler is chairman) of a new broad-based coalition, or "comprehensive alliance" (roads, bridges, rail, locks, etc.) called The Alliance for Improving America's Infrastructure.
While Talent notes that government shouldn't try to solve every problem, he believes improving and maintaining America's infrastructure is, "one of the four or five things government has to do if America is going to continue to be a place of opportunity for people."
Talent points out that we haven't really invested in infrastructure since the Eisenhower Administration -- notes that China is rapidly investing in infrastructure -- and pointedly states: "If you're optimistic about America's future, you need to invest in the infrastructure."
So why haven't recent presidents invested in improving America's infrastructure? Talent tells me it's, "because people get occupied with other things…we want to show Americans that this is our real priority."
He also says this bi-partisan effort would be good for safety (think bridges) and for the environment (because it reduces traffic problems and gas consumption).
And for those of us concerned about spending issues, Talent notes that investing in infrastructure has an economic multiplier effect: "You get about $5.75 in economic growth for dollar you invest in infrastructure," he tells me.
If you're traveling this weekend, Talent encourages you to visit their website, GetAmericaMoving.com -- and "upload pictures, videos, and messages detailing traffic bottlenecks, roads and bridges in need of repair, or other problems that are slowing us down."