The Duck of Minerva

The Duck Quacks at Twilight

A national transportation infrastructure commission?

October 8, 2005

I get mad about Alaska’s “Bridge to Nowhere” and its ilk for a whole host of reasons, but chief among them is how they represent a perversion of national priorities and needs. The US has compelling reasons to spend money improving and expanding its transportation infrastructure, much of which is out of date, not in the best of shape, and inadequate for future economic needs.

But we all know that, for the US government, transportation appropriations are the equivalent of trips to Billy Bob”s PorkORama BBQ and Ribs.

The solution seems obvious to me (so obvious that I’m sure it has occurred to lots of people before). Why not create a “national transportation infrastructure commission” modeled after the Base Realignment and Closure Commission?

Congress would “vote up or down” on the recommendations of the commission; there would be some details to iron out, such as whether the commission would be given a sum to work with before its proceeds, and so on and so forth.

I can’t imagine it would be a worse system for setting transportation priorities than the current one.

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Daniel H. Nexon is a Professor at Georgetown University, with a joint appointment in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service. His academic work focuses on international-relations theory, power politics, empires and hegemony, and international order. He has also written on the relationship between popular culture and world politics.