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The Exquisite Irony of the House GOP Transpo Bill Cover

8:39 AM PDT on July 12, 2011

That picture below? No, it's not one of those inspirational posters.

It's the cover for the new transportation reauthorization bill put forward by House Republicans, titled "A New Direction."

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We've written about how this proposal is not so much a new direction, but the old direction, except with a lot less money and a lot less pesky distractions (cyclists, pedestrians) from the time-honored practice of building roads for roads' sake.

The symbolism embodied in this -- dare we say it? -- Soviet-style piece of art was just too much for James Sinclair at Network blog Stop and Move. And he has done a public service by decoding it for us. Here's what he determined:

A new direction? How exactly is the picture of a sprawling highway interchange, one likely built 50 years ago, in any way new? Is the title suggesting that highways are the future? What is being changed here? Are we supposed to be impressed? This picture may have impressed America in 1948 ... but today? I mean, yes, the inside of the bill is all about highways, so it makes sense to highlight that ...

But why is the highway so empty? Are highways not well used? And if not, why are we funding them? Seems like a waste. But we know that's not true, highways are always full of cars... so why on earth show a completely desolate piece of roadway?

The bill is all about slashing spending. Anyone who follows infrastructure maintenance can tell you that this country has not been doing its job when it comes to maintaining roads (it's easy to find stories about bridges closed due to being unsound, lanes blocked off due to erosion, etc.). So perhaps the cover is saying this: "If you approve our bill, then our highways will look like this ... because we won't be able to maintain them, and engineers will have to close them off because the overpasses are structurally unsound."

On the plus side, thousands of miles of (mountain) bicycle routes will be opened up. Can't let all that empty (crumbling) pavement go to waste.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Broken Sidewalk remarks on the planning failures, and resulting traffic problems, at the Kentucky Speedway. WABA blog reports on the push in Washington to adopt anti-harassment/anti-assault legislation to protect cyclists. And Bike Portland comments on strides being made toward diversity in cycling in Portland and Washington DC.

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