President Eisenhower sold Congress on the need for an interstate highway system in part by highlighting its value to national defense. Few people today, though, see the connection between a robust surface transport system and military preparedness. That’s too bad, because there is abundant evidence that inadequate investment in transport infrastructure is undercutting both military preparedness and economic strength. For instance, if the Poe Lock between Lake Superior and Lake Huron were closed, steel production in the Midwest would largely cease, and the ripple effects would shrink U.S. GDP by over a trillion dollars. Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor rail line is in danger of collapse due to deteriorating tunnels and bridges. A quarter of merchandise trade between the U.S. and Canada moves over a single 90-year-old bridge in Detroit. There are dozens of dangerous chokepoints in the transport network that could undermine military and industrial mobilization in a national emergency. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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