Wind and Highways..?
After the Second World War, the United States needed to bolster its infrastructure to meet the needs of the thousands of veterans returning home from war. This need led to the rapid development of suburban communities on the outskirts of major cities, but this development created an issue of its own: transportation. In 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway Act leading to the creation of the highway system we know today. Developing the United States highway system drastically altered the commutes of Americans and solidified the foothold of the automobile in the lives of the American family.
While rural communities welcomed this new convenience, realizing the economic benefits it would bring, resentment towards highway development started to grow, primarily in urban communities. Contentious debate in Washington over the financing of President Eisenhower’s highway systems caused major urban cities including New York City, Washington, Philadelphia and San Francisco to oppose its construction in a series of Freeway Revolts. Now, the United States highway system is a critical piece of America’s infrastructure and is critical to commerce and national defense.
The highway system keeps the cost of transportation low. Highway maintenance projects create jobs for millions of Americans. Finally, we all have the ability to travel freely and efficiently across the country. As the United States became connected, our economy became supercharged and was propelled into the largest in the world. Applying this story to our world today, without major advancements in infrastructure development, the economy risks losing its grasp on new innovations.
As the country continues to feel the tides of change, communities should look to the past to understand the implications of opposing critical infrastructure projects. Similar to the way the interstate highway system transformed Americans’ ability to access our cities and to travel across the country, wind energy is poised to completely transform the way Americans receive critical energy. Like the highway system, the initial costs of wind energy seem high, yet, just as the highway system, community residents will be able to enjoy the service and convenience wind energy will bring for generations to come. American infrastructure has come a long way from stagecoaches on the frontier, it’s time for America to move into the next phase of energy source .