Recently I had the honor of addressing the Indiana House Committee on Roads and Transportation. One would think such a distinguished group would not want to hear from a long-term critic of the General Assembly. But they merely laughed when I was introduced.
My purpose on this rare occasion was to support the naming of a bridge on I-69 for David Graham and James Newland. Both were leaders in the struggle to build I-69, not just from Indianapolis, via Bloomington, to Evansville, but from Canada to Mexico.
Jim Newland, in particular, was a friend who taught me much about civility and persistence in the pursuit of desirable objectives. He and David Graham, with many others from Southwest Indiana, patiently and persuasively lobbied for I-69. They recognized its importance and feasibility long before it was politically popular. Despite often irrational opposition, they pressed to bring facts and cogent argument to the heated discussion that still smolders today. As I waited for my turn to speak, I reflected on the name of the committee: Roads and Transportation. Why not just Transportation? Alas, in Indiana, all forms of transportation, other than roads, are not taken seriously.
Most Hoosiers don’t know we have ports on the Ohio River and Lake Michigan. Most Hoosiers think of Indianapolis as having an airport and forget about the 60-plus other airfields in the state. Except when stopped at or jarred by a rough rail crossing, Hoosiers are indifferent to the tracks crossing our state. Pipelines? Here? Where and why?
Roads. That’s what we think about and that’s what we complain about as the snow falls and as it melts. We have regular fantasies that we experience congestion because most of us have never been in truly congested traffic. Some of us consider speed limits, traffic lights, parking regulations and stop signs as examples of unconstitutional infringements by government on our liberties.