tv Infrastructure Development CSPAN May 5, 2018 3:54am-4:58am EDT
foundation, advocating in favor of capital punishment. he has written numerous briefs before the supreme court. watch "landmark cases" monday at 9:00 eastern on the spin and join the conversation. our hashtag is #landmarkcases. and we have resources on our website for background on each case, the "landmark cases" companion book, a link to the interactive constitution, and the podcast at c-span.org/landmarkcases. >> today, a group of historians discussed historic infrastructure project in aviation and roads, and how they have influenced today's infrastructure development. this is part of an event hosted by the national his receptor in washington, d.c.
>> that is time. i'm director of the national history center of the american historical association. i want to bring you to this brief history of infrastructure in the united states, part of an ongoing series that the center sponsors to try to bring historical perspective to current issues. the center is strictly nonpartisan and the purpose of the program is not to advocate any particular set of policies, but rather provide historical context that can help inform policymakers and the public as they deal with the challenging issues we face. so, i want to -- before handing
the podium over -- make a few thank you's. first, to the mellon foundation which funds this series. second, to the office of congressman gerry connolly, who kindly arranged the bookings for this room. finally, to amanda perry, the associate director who did the hard work of arranging this. i want to pass it over to professor zachary schrag of george mason university. >> thank you. i am honored to be here today with these distinguished historians of infrastructure and an audience that i hope is willing to be persuaded that knowledge of history can inform present debates. we are gathered in a room illuminated by electric light,
arrived by rail and airports. we drank coffee that arrived by seaport, through miles of pipes and means. and without pressing my luck, i will guess that many people here shower this morning, perhaps in water heated by natural gas. president eisenhower said the dynamic forces of the very name we bear, the united states. but as professor bednarek has written, so crucial our error infrastructures to our daily existence that we view them as natural and inevitable. we only notice the shortcomings when something does not work. when we are asked to boil water, the water goes out, or a bridge collapses. we pay attention to infrastructure only in times of failure, certainly the case with the washington metro, whose history i have studied. infrastructure is a crucial technology, but not a simple one.
the 10 most important words written about the history of technology, technology is neither good nor bad, nor is it neutral. however, natural and inevitable infrastructure systems may seem, they are the product of people choices -- product of choices, made by people, months, weeks, or centuries in the past. in many cases, these have led to benefits, but even benefits and costs cannot be distributed fully, and even the most beneficial investments can harm someone's interests. just as we live with the choices made by americans in the past, future generations will live with the choices made now by engineers and inventors, operators and maintainers, voters and consumers, private and public enterprises, and by congress. as for all of the briefings sponsored by the national history center, our goal is not to prescribe policy, but offer historical perspective in the hope that it will help everyone
understand the potential consequences of the choices that face us today. toward that end, i'm pleased to introduce my two colleagues. janet bednarek is professor of history at the university of dayton where she teaches courses on urban history and american aviation. her work on airport history includes "america's airports," "cities take flight," and most recently, "airports, cities, and the jet age." her article, "the flying machine in the garden," was included in the best american essays of 2007. from 2005 to 2014, she served as the executive director of the urban history association, and then as president of the ohio academy of history. from 2005 to 2014, she served as the executive director of the
urban history association, and then as president of the ohio academy of history. she will be followed by peter norton, professor of history and the department of engineering and society at the university of virginia. he is the author of "fighting traffic." his article, "street rivals," published in "technology and culture," won the abbott payson usher prize. and he is a member of the university of virginia center for transportation studies and of the sustainable urban mobility project of technical university eindhoven, netherlands. each will speak for about 10 unit -- 10 minutes. afterward, i will open the floor for question and post some of my own. ms. bednarek: i want to give you a quick primer on the history of airports in the united states. for the most part, the major commercial airports in the united states are locally or publicly owned. there owned by the a city, county, state, or public at 30. while airports are critical to a national and international air transportation system used by a majority of americans, there has long been a debate on their
funding, construction, maintenance, and expansion. should it be local or federal, public or private? to give you context, the first customers for airports were actually members of the post office. the post office wanted to use airplanes to carry the mail, so they needed airfields, land fields across the country. they did not have the money to build a national system of air transportation, so they went to local cities and asked them, could you please build an airfield for us? cities at that time did not have the power to build landing fields, but often private interests would come forward, chambers of congress or other -- chambers of commerce or other organizations. if you go back to the 1920's, both public and private entities came forward to establish our airport infrastructure.
then in the 1930's, when federal money became available for jobs programs, air transportation was one of the few expanding areas in the country. there was a great need to improve the airports that had existed. well, federal policy said that if you are going to get federal money for this, you have to be publicly owned. so many of those private airports became public. cities would buy them, sometimes even just for one dollar, so they would technically be public airports and get some wpa or pwa money. the first big infusion of federal money into airports came during world war ii, when many airports, municipal airports, were enlisted for the duration. they became training fields or manufacturing sites. a lot of cities, atlanta for example, chicago, minneapolis,
dayton, where i'm from, they all came out of the war with vastly expanded and improved facilities because they had been used by the military during world war ii. that really set the stage for the expansion of civil aviation after the war, because of all the work that had been done during the war. the airport funding then, after the war, became a point of real debate. it was no longer a jobs program, no longer a defense program. should federal money continue to flow to airports? and there was a momentous debate during the 1950's where airports were strictly local. should cities be the ones to pay for them or counties or states? or are they indeed a national asset that federal money should be paid for? and if indeed money should flow from the federal government,
should it come out of general tax revenues or, say, a special trust fund, which is what happens with highways? eventually, that decision is made, but not until the 1970's for the history of airports. there is a long debate about who pays for airport development in the united states. is it local or federal? but also, is it public or private? because the main users of our commercial airports are our commercial airlines, which in this country are and always have been private companies. so what should their contribution be to the infrastructure that makes their business model even possible? and beyond the major commercial airports i talked about, there are a wide variety of other airport types in the united states. there are private airports, public access airports, big,
small airports. and they are also vying for the same kind of funding that the large commercial airports that most of us are familiar with our -- are vying for. so where does the money from this trust fund go? do we funnel it toward, the major airports who seemingly have their own revenue stream with the commercial airlines that are there and the retail they have in their terminals, and parking fees that they can do? or do we funnel it toward small airports, the regional relievers, small general aviation airports, that take traffic away from those large commercial airports and make it possible for them to focus on airline traffic. that is a part of the debate. the debate also has resolved who should have access to those, who -- to those who receives federal funding, and for those of you
who know anything about general aviation, it is everything but the commercial airlines. they are often seen as free riders in the system. they used the air traffic control system without necessarily paying for it, and they want to use all airports in the country without paying the same kind of fees, so argue the commercial airlines, that they pay. and particularly during the 1950's and 1960's, as airline travel was expanding in the united states at a dramatic rate, one of the things people pointed to, why can't we expand more, why do i have flight delays, why am i circling to get into the airport? because all of these little airplanes are clogging up the slots at the airport, so there was a big fight to move g.a. off the big airports and give them their own airports. but they are saying, it is our
tax dollars paying for this. there's a lot of fights within the aviation community itself over who has access to the airports, who gets to use them. but the number one problem, issue, facing airports that explains a lot of what is going on is airport noise. especially since the dawn of the jet age, but going back to the 1920's even. people don't like to live around airports. airports create a tremendous amount of noise, and particularly after the jet age, noise became the single biggest limiter in building new airports and expanding existing ones. if there is a big expense that airports have that does not have to do with runways and terminals, it is mitigating
noise, either soundproofing businesses around them, or the only way to control land use around them would be to literally buy out everyone around you. you tear down the homes, move the businesses, nobody around to make complaints anymore. a very simple answer, but expensive answer, and one that has a dramatic impact on the shape of the landscape around airports in the united states. finally, there is repeatedly the issue of privatization. should airports be publicly or privately owned? in much of the western world, airports have become privately owned. the big example is british airports, all privately owned after maggie thatcher came in. there was talk of privatizing airports in the united states during the 1980's. it comes up periodically. but in the united states, we
have pretty much stuck with the public model in the united states, although there are some people who call for privatization all the time. to that, i would remind everyone of a little thing called the dubai port steel, where one of the reasons that congress decided this was a good thing, why should we have our ports being operated by foreign companies? we don't let our airports be run by foreign companies. but, remember, that capital is global, and the british airports are owned by a spanish company. so there is my primer on airport history. [applause] mr. norton: i want to thank the national history center. also, it is an honor to me to be in the company of these two great historians, zach and janet.
and to be in the company of you all, advising our public service on how to give the best infrastructure future we can have. i think that infrastructure future is dependent upon a past we don't understand very well. in fact, more than that, i would say the past we have grown up with about surface transportation in this country is a past that was created in part to justify the status quo. i don't think we can understand the status quo or how we got there until we re-examine this past, which is what i have tried to do myself in my own work. now, time is short. i will concentrate on the surface transportation infrastructure, particularly on roads and streets. and i will concentrate in particular on urban transportation because to try to take on both urban and rural would be difficult, and more than that, i think the more anomalous situation to explain
is the urban one. we have a surface transportation system in this country that is automobile dependent. automobile dependency is not necessarily a bad thing. automobiles are excellent tools for certain jobs, particularly useful in areas of low to and for tripsty of more than one mile but under 100 miles. and by that standard, there is some degree of sense for our automobile-dependent transportation system in the lower density areas. it is harder to explain why this country -- i don't think it is an exaggeration -- destroyed and rebuilt its own cities in the 20th century to serve automobiles, as if the city serves the transportation mode rather than the other way around. for that reason, i would like to concentrate specifically on that question, which has substantial policy implications for the
future. and it has a history which i don't think is well appreciated at all. if we were to go back 100 years and tell people that in the future people would drive to work even in large cities, expect to find parking when they got there, expect policymakers to make sure we had affordable parking when we got there, and that much of the urban fabric they knew would be gone to make room for this, they would be shocked. and i don't mean ordinary urban americans, who certainly would've been, but even experts and policymakers were quite explicit that you don't rebuild cities to make room for cars. it makes no sense to do so. so i think we have to ask ourselves, how did that happen? and i think we will better understand the status quo. again, to go back 100 years, you would find people strolling in
streets wherever they chose. you would find in fact the judges, juries, and even police officers at the time were quite accepting of this. we would find, moreover, if such a person was injured by a vehicle, that the jury and judge would be most likely to find in favor of the pedestrian who was using the street. and i think this is something we should be thinking about, because it turns out that walking in cities is an extremely energy efficient, public health conducive, low-cost, and spatially efficient way to get around the city, relatively to an automobile. again, it is not to say that it does not have a place. it is a tool, and it has jobs for which it is well suited. our policy error in the 20th century that we are living with now is, i would say, misunderstanding a tool that is excellent at certain jobs as the tool for all jobs in all applications. how did this happen? well, the most common story is that americans preferred the
automobile. they bought it in mass, particularly when it became affordable, thanks to henry ford, and policy responded to this mass demand and preference. incidentally, if you go to the national museum of american history, a fairly short walk from here, you will find that while they are admirably complex in their explanation, the predominant message there is that this was, indeed, a response to popular demand by americans who preferred to drive. that at least is the account you will get in the exhibit called america on the move, which we will find in the general motors hall of transportation, which they named after them, out of possible generosity or self-interest. how did that happen? i will give you a highly
simplified, and for that reason, it could certainly be questioned, but i think the questions will stand up when it gets to the level of detail that i don't have time to get into. if i offer you this abbreviated account, the first obstacle to automobile predominance in american cities was the notion that people belonged in streets, as they did, and automobiles did not, as they did not. and that was the general consensus view of ordinary americans, as expressed in letters to the editor of newspapers, which were quite vocal about this, but also judges, juries, police officers, and even transportation experts. the first generation of traffic engineers in this country that dealt with street traffic, as opposed to real traffic, were also unanimous that the automobile is the wrong way to get around a city, and in fact, the single most predictable recommendation of traffic
engineers in the 1920's was to forbid curb parking, to which you would get the objection, it will be hard to drive. to which they would say, good, there are better ways to get around the city. urban infrastructure then, particularly electric street railways, while not very fast, moved people in quantity with extraordinary spatial efficiency and at low cost. now, this was an obstacle to people who wanted a future for automobiles in cities. predominately at first, local people with this interest. i'm talking about the local automobile club, the local automobile dealers association, the local taxicab company. they attacked this problem first at a local level. one of the preferred methods was to equate traffic safety with keeping pedestrians off the
street, which sounds sort of commonsensical to us now, outside of crosswalks. but that was a tough sell a century ago when the first generation of traffic safety campaigns unanimously vilified the car and driver and put all the responsibility on them. and said, if you want to operate an automobile on a city street, that's fine, but you've got to make sure that as the operator of the dangerous vehicle, you accept the full responsibility of going at a suitable speed and making sure you are alert to pedestrians everywhere. newspaper editorials were unanimous, we need to make sure that drivers bear the responsibility. the problem, first of all, is of responsibility shifting. how you do that? in the safety campaigns, local automobile interest groups reinvented a midwestern slang called jaywalker.
the initial one was jaydriver, the driver who menaces pedestrians. they reinvented the term as a way to ridicule the pedestrians who walk everywhere, and they got boy scouts to hand flyers to people telling them, did you know you are jaywalking? this is the 20th century, you should be off the street. and newspapers tell us this is how people learned the word. it was a great first start. the second step was getting cities to actually legally for -- for bed -- forbid jaywalking, and by the mid-1920's, they were succeeding through means that i won't go into for reasons of time, but which i would be happy to explain. a nice illustration of this redefinition comes from the yellow taxicab company of chicago, which in 1926 managed to introduce the first coordinated traffic signals on
city streets anywhere in the world. that is, traffic signals coordinated so that motor vehicles going a certain speed would never get a red light. once they run through one green light at an appropriate speed, they would hit a succession of green lights, sometimes called the green wave. they got this because they wanted streets to be for cars, namely taxicabs. once they got it in, the response was quite vocal for pedestrians. hey, we can't walk in the street wherever we want anymore. this was a piece of that redefinition as well. a transitional point came in 1923 when locals of cincinnati, 42,000 of them, signed petitions to mechanically equip automobiles with speed governors such that they would not be capable of going faster than 25 miles per hour. and this was to be a referendum. they got it on a ballot, had the
referendum in cincinnati. i call it a transitional point because it terrified people who wanted a future for automobiles in cities into organizing first, locally, then nationally. the automobile interest group of that time was called the national automobile chamber of commerce. they formed a traffic and safety committee and became the predecessor of what is later called the automobile safety foundation, which was by then funded entirely by the automobile manufacturers association, predominantly general motors. and they organized and are quite explicit, we have to redefine what city streets are for, as places predominantly for automobiles. the way we do that by redefining safety as keeping people off of the street, and we redefine safety also as making what they were then pleased to call "foolproof" highways, without grade crossings, median strips or shoulders, so you would not
have collisions. they promised it would eliminate 98% of collisions. it never got there because they introduced new hazards having to do with things like speed and rear end collisions, for example. and they became the basis for the highway transportation engineering discipline, which promised to free us from the affliction that by the 1970's was costing us more than 50,000 fatalities per year, traffic fatalities through highway engineering alone. we have learned the hard way that that was clearly not enough. we have since introduced, sometimes against objections of the automobile industry, ways to reduce those numbers.
but as long as we have an automobile-dependent society, conventional automobiles, that affliction will persist. i want to close by saying a word about the future. there is reasonable hope that autonomous vehicles will deliver us from this affliction and other ones like traffic congestion. but by no means is this a panacea or certainty. technology gives us a menu from which we can choose, it is not an inevitable fate that we have to prepare for, as it is so often characterized. one of the terrible legacies of automobile dependency and the -- in the 20th century, i would contend, is that we have public health disasters in the form of sedentary living. it has given us unprecedented levels of preventable disease due to physical inactivity. autonomous vehicles could perpetuate that. in more practical terms, we are dealing now with a physical infrastructure crisis, having maintained the overbuilt infrastructure from the 20th
century. it is a tough problem. i don't know that we can readily accept the protrusion -- proposal that it requires a change of technology, when technology itself requires substantial maintenance and we should be asking ourselves, do we need to prepare a plan for avoiding a future of a technology infrastructure maintenance crisis, not just a physical infrastructure maintenance crisis. finally, i want to acknowledge we have a guest from the dwight d eisenhower commemoration memorial commission. carl ridell. and i suggest that a republican five-star general has warned us about the situation we are now in with highways in his farewell address three days before he left office in 1961. president eisenhower cautioned us against losing our
independence as a democracy to the military-industrial complex. a congressional -- corporate alliance that would compete with the popular will as expressed through democracy. that warning was was, and i think it is an elegant what we ,hould now because she is about which is, as we have learned since the 1930's much of our service transportation policy is the product of similar complexes having to do with organizations like the american road builders association or the national highway users conference, the american trucker association, all of which does a replace at the table, but their voices must not crowd out the voice of the citizenry of the country. thank you very much. [applause]
>> before i open up to questions, i would like to draw out four things i heard in both presentations that are important, not just to transportation, but all kinds of infrastructure. we have learned infrastructure is not the physical object. it is also the series of rules of who gets to use that. if you're in a car, you are allowed to go where the road is. if you try that on an airplane and landed at whatever airport you want to, that will be a problem. we see that with all kinds of other infrastructure as well, articulate transportation, but we have debates over the radio spectrum. secondly, the importance not just up performance but a policy, that in a democratic society we are constantly going back and forth between the question of whether infrastructure should respond to popular demand or shape popular
demand, and it is delegate. i would like to throw in the name of barbara mikulski who came to prominence as a protester against a massive freeway in baltimore. she blocked it and that turned into a career in congress. there is a role for ordinary citizens to say we do not like this, this is not our preference, whatever you say. the third is this question of public and private that is not an either-or question. one thing you learn is how many different things have been tried? there is no one right way to distinguish between public and private roles in infrastructure. and finally and is takes us back to ms. mikulski, the question of externality is positive or negative. good works have benefits long beyond their immediate needs. central park, for example, where we heard about jet noise, traffic fatalities. these are the negative
externalities whose costs are not always visible when the project is being designed. the one last thing i will say about infrastructure is we are going to be on tv, so wait for the microphone before you ask your question. but i will look for hands. wait for the mike. >> so this is new. i have a background in history and in infrastructure, worked in it for decades. my question for peter, if you could speak to freight movement in the city. we spent a lot of time talking about passenger movement and people movement, now that we are wondering how many ups trucks you can send down a street at a time, tell us more about the freight side of this and a decision-making and the policymaking that happens.
mr. norton: historically, both local motor fleet operators like local trucking companies and later national organizations, particularly the american trucking associations, have long been advocates making roads and streets, including urban roads and streets, accommodating to vehicles. if you go back a hundred years or just 80 years, most of that was a multimodal system where the freight would be delivered, particularly by steam railroad, and distributed from warehouses to retail or other destinations in the city. and there was certain streets and roads that were primary conduits for this that kept the truck and other kinds of delivery traffic off the smaller streets, and that is not too different for the most part from
where we are today. ups trucks may find itself going down quite a small street. where policy becomes -- there may be a watershed here -- after the 1950's whence the end or it's coming from the american society of state highway officials, later transportation officials, start mandating much more accommodating street and road infrastructure for trucks, particularly on the justification that emergency vehicles need to have wide turning radii, and that happens to serve the interests of those who also want trucks on the streets and roads as well. such as this permits the large vehicle traffic to percolate through the urban fabric much more completely, for better and for worse, depending on who you ask.
i would consider that particular policy transition in the mid 20th century worked -- where curb turning radii, where the functional classification system serves particularly motor vehicle access is an important transition. >> maybe they will all be delivered by drone. and you will have an entirely different problem to deal with. >> other questions? >> thank you very much. all three of you are experts in transportation infrastructure. there are a variety of other kinds of infrastructure that we are trying to deal with as well,
congress is, in terms of electrical grids and the like. one question might be to ask if any of you have any thoughts on that and its relationship to transportation infrastructure. are we dealing with similar sorts of questions or issues in that regard? or is this a different ball of wax altogether? the second question has to do with the size of the united states and its implications for infrastructure. if you look at most european countries that are our counterparts in terms of creating transportation infrastructure, smaller, much denser population, obviously, one of the ways in which you move across great distances is airways. another one is railroads, which has largely disappeared from the american scene. i wonder if any of you would like to speak to that issue as well. ms. bednarek: the size of the united states played a big role
in the embrace of aviation, because we are just very large and airplanes could transport people and things much faster than surface transportation could. that is what the post office was about. they wanted to deliver the mail faster. as early as the 1920's, they did an experiment where they were going to fly day and night, the mail, from what kos to the other, and they could do it in 36 hours, which was days ahead of what could happen if it was carried by the railroad. and this was one of the dramatic stunts that was done to provide the value of airmail, particularly for the contracts or other kinds of documents that were very time sensitive, that you could deliver them quickly. and it is a long way from one coast to the other in united states. and so that also influenced, did
not cause, but influenced also the type of airplanes that we developed here in the united states, that then went on to dominate world aviation, the dc-3, i'm thinking of, where that became the standard airliner around the world because it could conquer the distances that were in the united states, and european powers could then use it because they still have their empires, could use it to travel throughout the world. so, yeah, the size of the united states had to do that, but it also -- got to have a lot of airports there. and a lot of people complained, the european and asian airports, they are so much nicer than the u.s. airports. part of it is, if you think about it, again, many of them have limited overs of places where the international travelers come into, and they are specifically designed to be
showcased airports. they get a lot of national funding for them. whereas in the united states, again, every town and city wants to have their airport, and we do not have a single national port of entry. dulles kind of thought might be that, but we do not have that. we have multiple ones. it is not surprising that we do not have a big showcase airport that could be one of best airports in the world. that is something that i do not think gets into the debate where we complain about how horrible our airports are. just have a lot more of them that anyone else, and is is a different political economy. they are locally owned and operated. there is a limited amount of federal funding here, and the national government has not designated anyone as you were single point of entry that we are going to make as our
showcase airport. >> about the size of the country and its significance, first of all for transportation, i think it is interesting and not generally that well known that when president roosevelt, through six lines on a map of the usa in 1938, and handed it to the chief of the public roads, thomas donald, and said, tell me what you think, the answer coming from the donald, one of the biggest highway automobile promoters we have ever had, was people do not want to drive 3000 miles, people do not want to drive 2000 miles. they got trains to do that, and in 1938 they had dc-3's to do that, and he did not see that as the best way to road-committing energy.
to him railways make a lot of sense. i took rail to get here. i am from the university of virginia in charlottesville. to get a train departs at a time that you and me, i cannot take the charlottesville train. i had to go to fredericksburg, which is an hour and a half away, and the departure was an hour late. to make sure i could be here, i had to leave last night which meant a hotel room. each signal was a smack in the face, take the car, dummy. take the car. this particularly fathers me when i continue to see what i consider rather naive statements about what americans prefer to do when they travel presented in absolutist terms. if i had taken the car here, it would not have been an expression of my preference, although likely an engineering study that would measure that car would call that a demand, and it could justify another springfield interchange expansion, which the last one
, and the laston time i used it i do not pay anything for it. why would i not do that? i want to suggest that the large size of the country does not -- is not a self-evident justification for, say, really long distance road if her sharks are, although some of that is necessary. -- infrastructure, although some of that necessary. other kinds of infrastructure, there are analogous questions. where i am from, a gas pipeline is coming in. most local people are unhappy about it. you have a classic question in , which janete referred to when she spoke about noise, which is, to what degree do we consider the local preference relative to a larger interest? here is where i would like to
provide a term that is to be ubiquitous among regulators, and i see less and less, which is, what is the public interest? this is the governing question. it made us remember the equal time rule on broadcasting, where if you gave one side a point of view, you had to find something else to give another point of view. it gave us public service announcements. a public interest document might be a useful guide if not a simplify her of this complicated problem. >> i would like to toss in i have not worked on the history of water and electricity, that i have talked to some of it. the rhymes are pretty close. this is what economists in the 20th century said -- it is not healthy to have another think next it, and the privately owned railroads, which many historians said were overbuilt, where railroads ended up in bankruptcy, people would say he will be one big powerline, one big road, one big water line, and in some cases the was will
be privately owned and other cases they will be publicly owned. we're talking about water. most big cities have publicly owned water. san jose has a privately one, but publicly regulated. all of these have some of the same issues, including these questions of the public interest. so this is a problem if you are committed to very small government is, what do you do when there are these natural monopolies? and even some people who i am thinking of -- who are skeptical of the government role may see a role for government even in owning or regulating some of these systems. a question? eisenhowernow
developed definite views on infrastructure, and that came from experience as a professional military officer, especially in world war ii. when he came into the presidency, he thought and had learned to think as a professional military officer inclusively. and he considered freedom of movement and the ability to move on land, at sea, in the air, and even in space. so his view was very much are the -- a larger, total view, but at the core of it was what he carried as a military officer, remembering the five-star general status and his decision to be addressed as general, not president, after the presidency. as he carried that into the presidency, he was conscious of security, security of the united states as a premier public interest, if you will.
and so there was him, the president, bringing attention to that. how would you describe the attention to that today as a major element of public interest in the context of infrastructure? eisenhower had a definite inclusive view that informed much that he did as president, that i do not know and am not competent about how that is viewed today. >> i am not sure about my competency about how it is viewed today is necessarily distinctive in this room of people who are in deep policy experts. i will note that from the national security point of view, as i'm sure everybody knows in this room from the interstate highways in particular were justified or argued for on the grounds that they would help to evacuate cities in the event of a soviet attack. you want to evacuate cities. it appears to me that this was
never one of the views that president eisenhower shared. in part i base this on notes of a meeting he held about a year before he left office, where he thought that the emphasis on urban highways had been vastly overplayed. and i think if that is fair, if i'm interpreting those notes correctly, there is wisdom there, because i believe it was hurting party that hit houston -- i believe it was hurricane houston andhit people could not get out of that city, and houston has the best interstate highways of the entire planet, and they could not get out of that city. in fact, if i recall correctly, there was an order not to evacuate because it would have caused chaos on the highways of the city. if i am interpreting the minutes of that meeting correctly that president eisenhower did not
share the view that highways are the best way to evacuate people from a city, i think history will bear him out, and not just in hurricane harvey, but in other hurricane evacuations. that has not been a stupendous success. >> i would like to throw in this is an issue for many countries. the roman empire built roads to connect and primarily move freight. starting in the early modern period, european countries built roads for the same reason, and , and countries like canada and russia, these long trunk lines and the transcontinental railroad in the united states is easier to the spy on military grounds than on freight grounds. some of these countries i think have maybe stronger senses of limit. there's a great conference in canada a few years ago when i talked to canadian torrents, and canada built an interstate
national highway, but they -- and it is up to the provinces to build whatever urban freeways and other kind of connectors they want. as a result, this leads to fewer urban freeways of the kind that future senator mikulski was protesting against. this goes back to what peter was saying about surface streets can have too much of good thing. that is true of highways. that can be true of airports. that can be true of where roads with the overbuilding. and i do not know if there's any place that has overbuilt water. certainly dams. a lot of great dam building in the 1960's as people understood the costs, environmental and otherwise, of building those dams. it is nice to have some kind of feet back loop, m system, -- feedback loop, some systems,
that says this is too much. >> security is tied to the airports. most people do not realize it, most commercial airports are co-located with either air national guard or reserve units. they are an important part of that. and always have been from the beginning. navy, air force, army units on those airports. so that is still there and can cause some problems. but again, most people, if they want to encounter the national security state or the new normal, just go to the airport, right? take off your shoes. i did not have to show i.d. to get into this building, but i have to take off my shoes, go through a metal detector, full body scan to get on to an airplane today. so security in that way has impacted airports, but the airport infrastructure is still
important to the total force in the united gates. -- states. >> policy discussions about building infrastructure today are tied into a lot of other objectives that interfere with building infrastructure, as least as cheaply as it might be built. you have prevailing ways laws, in some places russian labor agreements, you have got a contract to small business, requirements to use locally made products or u.s.-eight steel, that sort of thing. how far back does this stretch in the history of the federal government's involvement in infrastructure? are these kinds of requirements, have they been around a long time? >> i think they go back a long way, even before the founding. you have the old system of forced labor on roads, and in
april, the power of the british roads, talks about how vagrants were rounded up and told you are going to sort rocks if you want bread. the idea of infrastructure being a way to soak up idleness goes way back and it goes way forward. it is paving the way. in new york in the 20th century a lot of roads were done by farmers. it is the equivalent of jury duty. get your horses and it is your road day. this goes well back, and it is probably a good thing in terms of these wpa products, dams or airports. milton friedman ridiculed them, saying every thing should be built with a spoon if that is your objective.
there is a balancing act, but historically public works have a very long tradition of providing work relief. mr. norton: i heard in your question and interest of requirements that limits your alternatives at least in non-optimal ways. that goes back as well. right now, for example, one of the biggest complaints among city transportation officials, as the national association of city transportation officials would tell you, is that the state departments of transportation tied their hands about what they can do within city limits, and sort of sometimes to some extent at least impose suburban or rural standards on dense city cores in ways where they are not nearly so well suited. going back, one of these -- when did these constraints start
kicking in? you can see them going back a long way, and particularly of successful advance of interest groups that have a stake in this , for example a lot of our state highways in the 20th century and the first generation of interstate highways were typically made of reinforced portland cement, and that had more to do with the success of the portland cement association in self-advancement than with any obvious advantage. yes, it has her ability advantages, but it has a lot of disadvantages, which are holding us now. a lot of this concrete infrastructure is crumbling all around us. >> what does transportation experience with dedicated taxes and trust funds teach us about other infrastructure and development?
ms. bednarek: that it is never as easy and is going to -- as it is going to be. after the fund was set up, there will be five to about who pays taxes into it, how much is it, what can be paid out of it, what cannot, and oftentimes new things come up. the aviation trust fund was set up in 1970, and it did not make any provision for dealing with aircraft noise. so there had to be this long fight to allow for aviation trust fund moneys to go to localities to deal with the noise issue and so on. so if you think that is going to stop the political fight over it and make it a civil cash register that money can just flow out of, not so much. mr. norton: the gasoline tax model of road funding has a very
, and i think underappreciated history. it begins in the 1920's. first aid, oregon, 1919, introduced it, and it was not popular. by 1930, every single state and d.c. had a gas tax, and that is because the groups realized this was their ticket, and by the mid-20's they were unanimous and coordinated. we lobbied for these gas taxes on condition the money go into road, often just construction of roads, leaving maintenance as a long-term burden, but that depended on the state. the public selling of this model was people are what they get, which is of course open to question because after all five minutes on a rural two-lane north dakota highway is going to cost you as much as five minutes in traffic that is moving on the beltway, when the cost of course is extraordinarily different.
i think it would be not unlike best buy charging by the over everything they sell. you would get congestion and the congestion would be in the electronics department, not in the towel bolster department. it was always a flawed model. what i find interesting is the internal opposition about gas taxes in the automobile interest groups. they do not say not very much money themselves, wow, this makes a lot of sense because people are going to get what they get, they say, check it out, guys, we have a gas tax, then more people drive, the more roads we built. that is not the end of the story because the more roads we build, the more people will drive, this is a wonderful self-reinforcing feedback loop that will give us a nice retirement. >> i will just say an interesting moment in this is the first generation of limited access highways, starting with the pennsylvania turnpike primer
to the federal act of 1966 where a lot of eastern states held highways with tolls. we have them, the new jersey turnpike, and those have a different feedback loop, where people have this item is this trip worth the $10 or the $20? tohad in virginia and effort richer actively do that on interstate 66. people are asked to pay 15, $30 some whereas that cost has only been there. it is only visible now that you are causing $30 worth of congestion and other people behind you, you have never noticed it before. i think there is something to be said for some user fees if people can find a way to not make them truly progressive, and this debate goes all the way back to the 19th century as much
with other modes, such as water usage and electricity has it does with transportation. when new york opens its aqueduct in the 1840's, it is free at the pump. if you want to get clean water at the public pump, it is yours. if you want it typed into your home, you pay extra. that is another high model that did reflect maybe a little bit more the demand as opposed to just getting it for free and not having it can -- it to conserve. >> it is exactly noon, so we did very well terms of our schedule. thank you for this great questions, and thank you, peter and janet, for your learned responses. [applause] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2018] [captioning performed by the
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