Thoughts from Italy
The Romans built great roads and bridges to transport commerce and armies, and great aqueducts and arches to transport water and baths and sewers for hygiene; they were so well built that they remain today throughout Europe. This is/was the eternal city. What will be the American legacy in 2000 years?
Over the course of a century the Florentines of the Renaissance built magnificent cathedrals, statues, art, bridges and a city admired for over 600 years. How are we doing lately?
The Italians have built a magnificent super fast train system that connects most major Italian cities – operating quietly and efficiently at speeds up to 250 mph. They are a delight for passengers to ride. https://www.italiarail.com/frecciarossa Italy and Austria are building the Brenner Base Tunnel under the Alps from Bolzano to Innsbruck. It will cut the train times now exceeding two hours to fifty minutes, reduce congestion and provide crucial fast rail linkages between Northern and Southern Europe. Expected completion date is 2025. When was your last long trip on an American train and how was it? How are American ports and harbors doing?
The Dutch built the Maeslantkering in 1997 to prevent North Sea storm surges from flooding the low-lying country and destroying its port of Rotterdam. Over the past decade, we in the US have seen the cities and ports of New York, New Orleans and Houston disabled by hurricanes. Puerto Rico is without power. Miami just dodged a disaster. What the heck are we waiting for?
Our passenger train system is among the worst in the world's developed nations. Our freeways are gridlocked in the major urban areas of the East and West Coast. Airports and airplanes cannot be accessed in a timely fashion because of traffic congestion and, if your name is not Tom Price, how did you enjoy your last plane ride? We have suffered through debilitating droughts and catastrophic wildfires in California. We cannot deliver basic food, water, medicine, energy and shelter to our nation’s citizens in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands when thoroughly predictable and well-foreseen emergencies strike. Why are we becoming so frequently paralyzed and unable to act until it’s far too late?
Why can’t we be the infrastructure pioneers as we were in train tracks crossing the American continent, canals connecting the oceans, the Mississippi River, the Great Lakes, interstate highways connecting our cities and plane travel around the world? That was then. What about now? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail_in_the_United_States Why can’t be build a third tunnel under the Hudson, bullet trains connecting our cities, tunnels to bring water under the Sacramento Delta to our farms and Southern California megalopolis? Why are we trapped in this governmental paralysis of will, which leads to Alaskan “Bridges to Nowhere”, rather than the beautiful Golden Gate?
With public impetus and support, the American private sector has helped to produce the internet, the i-phones and personal computers that are revolutionizing the world. Where is the vision coming from a public sector, now enfeebled and disabled by the Trump Administration? More and greater tax cuts for the wealthiest? Benefit cuts for the workers? Health cuts for the poor and disabled? Nuclear war in North Korea?
We hiked in the Italian Alps; the trails were challenging and very well-maintained; the signage was clear and frequent -- just what we needed. I cannot say the same for signage on our local trails, how are they in your community?
We are so much better than this. Let’s get started building at the state and local level, and let’s not stop there. Let’s take back Washington from the control of the acolytes of the Koch Brothers, and the Mercer family and make it a government we as Americans can all be proud of. But let's be sure that when the pendulum swings we are ready with good strong and practical visions for infrastructure investments to build a prosperous future for all of our citizens.
The narrow minded, narcissistic, misogynistic, xenophobic, racist, nationalistic disease that has so badly corrupted and infected our nation and its body politic has to be eradicated, and it starts within each of us.
Prepared by: Lucien Wulsin
Dated: October 18, 2018