A national audience

By |  November 24, 2014

About 12 million people watch the television news magazine 60 Minutes each week. So, when yesterday’s program led off with a report about America’s aging and crumbling roads and bridges, viewers heard in 15 minutes a message our industry has spent countless hours and millions of dollars trying to get across.

“Falling apart: America’s neglected infrastructure” may have helped the cause for highway funding more than all of the ROCKPAC dollars that have ever been spent. This isn’t a criticism of NSSGA’s lobbying effort — it’s simply a recognition of the power of the voting public. Ultimately, politicians who want to stay in office must cater to the wishes of their constituents, so getting the public onboard with the need for infrastructure improvements is the most important piece of the puzzle.

Reporter Steve Kroft leads off the segment: “There are a lot of people in the United States right now who think the country is falling apart, and at least in one respect they’re correct. Our roads and bridges are crumbling, our airports are out of date and the vast majority of our seaports are in danger of becoming obsolete. All the result of decades of neglect.”

Kroft speaks with Ray LaHood. A former secretary of transportation and Republican congressman, LaHood is currently co-chairman of Building America’s Future, a bipartisan coalition that is lobbying for more spending on infrastructure.

Kroft asks LaHood about the infrastructure: “How did it get this way?”

LaHood responds, “It’s falling apart because we haven’t made the investments. We haven’t got the money. The last time we raised the gas tax, which is how we built the interstate system, was 1993.” He adds that the politicians in Washington don’t want to spend the money. “They don’t want to raise the taxes. They don’t really have a vision of America the way that other Congresses have had a vision of America.”

The report notes the “dangerous” condition of many of our roads and bridges and cites disasters such as the Minnesota bridge collapse in 2007 and the shutting down of a section of I-95 in Philadelphia in 2008. That road nearly collapsed. Hopefully, it won’t take more injury and death before Congress begins the long and expensive process of fixing this problem.

Even though 12 million viewers represent only a small fraction of registered voters, the 60 Minutes airing goes a long way in the getting the message out. You can watch or read the full segment here.

About the Author:

Darren Constantino is an editor of Pit & Quarry magazine. He can be reached at dconstantino@northcoastmedia.net.

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