From camels to wagons to modern eighteen-wheelers, the ability to transport commodities long distances is the foundation for the industry and luxuries most Americans have come to take for granted. Travelling coast to coast in 1830 generally took around five months - the Transcontinental Railroad cut that time down to one week, but only if you were fortunate enough that your departure and destination were near an established rail line. It has hardly even been a full century since President Woodrow Wilson enacted the Federal Aid Road Act (1916), the first concerted effort to connect scattered population clusters by road.
It's hard for some to believe that it was less than a century ago (1919) when the Transcontinental Motor Convoy took nearly two full months to travel from Washington, DC to San Francisco, CA - averaging 5.65 miles per hour while also losing 9 vehicles and 21 personnel enroute. One of the participants was a 28yo Lieutenant Colonel Dwight D Eisenhower who, later as President, pushed through the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956. Since the 1980s, the typical American can complete the same trip in three or four days.
As spectacular an accomplishment as the Eisenhower Interstate Bill was, it did have a few unexpected flaws:
1 ) When passed, Interstate Highways were explicitly earmarked for "military transport during times of war" and "interstate commerce during peacetime". Military transport primarily involves trucks, while interstate commerce centers on trucks almost exclusively - at the time, no one anticipated how private automotive traffic would come to wholly dominate the Interstate System.
2 ) But more than this, few people foresaw how the Interstate System would affect Main Street America. Drivers passing through town had once been the lifeblood of so many communities, particularly throughout the southwest. As Interstate Highways bypassed scores of cities and hundreds of towns entirely, businesses collapsed and communities crumbled.
While estimates range from 7% per year to a 135% increase within a decade, acceptance that demand for both the frequency and quantity of freight via trucking will continue to increase dramatically is wholly ubiquitous. The only real question at hand is if there is any way for America's infrastructure to absorb this increase and survive.
There's the additional onus that the original Interstate System was founded in an era when 55,000 pounds was considered the threshold for a fully-loaded truck and there were only a few thousand trucks on the road. As of 2015, there are 3.6m Class-8 trucks and 11.7m trailers racking up over 280 BILLION miles annually. Even with companies recruiting drivers like crazy, many sources expect to run short of drivers as early as 2020.
Simply put, it is crucial that the transportation industry is empowered to accomplish more with fewer drivers. More to the point is that performing the necessary work to existing roadways is akin to trying to put up wallpaper while the house is still burning.
The TruckerState Supplemental Highway System is a singular solution for a multitude of these and other issues.
Specific details concerning the initial component of the TruckerState System (aka TS-1) include:
- At its easternmost terminus, TS-1 would connect with the Long Island Expressway
- Proceeding westward, its first connection would be with I-79, north of Pittsburg, PA, near the I-76 interchange (approx 350 miles)
- Its next connection would be with I-69 near Muncie, IN (approx 320 miles)
- Its next connection would be with I-55 south of Springfield, IL (approx 250 miles)
- Its next connection would be with I-35 southwest of Kansas City, KS (approx 300 miles)
- Its next connection would be with I-25 between Trinidad, CO and Raton, NM (approx 420 miles)
- Its next connection would be with I-40 near Winslow, AZ (approx 420 miles)
- Its next connection would be with I-10 near Blythe, CA (approx 300 miles)
- Its westernmost terminus would connect with I-8 just outside San Diego, CA (approx 210 miles)
Aside from shaving more than 15% from the nearly 3000 miles from the whole of this route – saving time, fuel, and money across the board – this routing avoids major metropolitan areas as much as possible. Not only does this dramatically reduce congestion and pollution in these areas by eliminating superfluous traffic, but also reduces both the disruption and frequency of the second stage of this program – rehabilitating and maintaining urban Interstate roadways. This also offers the advantage of diverting hazardous cargo away from populated areas. As the above suggested routing illustrates, only a few TruckerState routes would be required in order to divert a significant portion of long-distance truck traffic away from major metropolitan areas.
There are, however, a few caveats concerning any roadway intended to receive ‘TruckerState’ status:
- TruckerState routes themselves, as well as their right-of-ways and any/all services directly associated with them, shall be considered a self-recognized entity unto itself, operating solely under its own authority and jurisdiction.
- Access will forever be restricted to military and commercial vehicles, and to other vehicles specifically tasked towards purposes such as law enforcement or emergency response. Some exceptions to this limitation may be made in certain cases but private and automotive traffic in general will forever be prohibited. Any unauthorized vehicles will be impounded, and likely confiscated.
- Each entry point to a TruckerState route will essentially be a four-lane weigh station with inspection facilities – one lane for bobtails and buses, one lane for empty trailers, and two for loaded trailers. The bulk of the stations’ duties will center on validating that vehicles have current registration, performing brief visual inspections, denying access to prohibited vehicles, and verifying that loaded vehicles comply with Federal Bridge Law (unless otherwise specifically permitted).
- Each exit point (possibly combined with the entry point) will similarly verify that exiting vehicles comply to applicable Bridge, Kingpin, and other configuration Laws. Identification of trucks and trailers as they enter and exit TruckerState routes will be used to assess road-use taxation as its own entity under IFTA and/or other similar programs.
- Wherever possible, secured trailer yard facilities will be established as near as practical to all access points for TruckerState routes. Space in these facilities shall be available for lease to various trucking companies – with no single company leasing more than 8% or conglomerate company (such as the Swift/Knight/MS/Simon/etc group) leasing more than 15% of the total space available at any given facility. Revenue generated from these leases – in addition to relevant road-use taxes – shall serve to improve and expand these facilities and the TruckerState system as a whole.
- All TruckerState routes shall have a right-hand lane width of eighteen (18) feet, a right-hand shoulder with a width of sixteen (16) feet, and with at least one additional travel lane and left-hand shoulder thirteen (13) feet wide each. These widths should readily accommodate the 24-hour operation of over-dimension loads. While this cannot wholly divert over-dimension loads from existing roadways, it offers a preferred route which should help minimize obstructions along the bulk of their routes.
- Curves, banking, grading, and all other engineering aspects of TruckerState routes shall be designed to accommodate steady 70 MPH traffic. Every reasonable effort shall be taken to avoid overhead obstructions altogether, and to offer a minimum of 28 feet of clearance in situations where such obstruction is unavoidable.
- Whenever a TruckerState route crosses over another roadway, it should afford a minimum clearance to that roadway appropriate to its status and the anticipated traffic thereon. In no case shall a TruckerState route afford less than sixteen (16) feet of clearance to another roadway.
- Wherever reasonably possible, effort should be made to maintain as minimal a grade as practical. Excepting absolute need, no portion of a TruckerState-designated route be so constructed as to have a grade in excess of six (6) percent, nor a grade exceeding four (4) percent in excess of one mile within any five mile segment along its route. Emergency ‘escape ramps’ shall be provided as appropriate along any extended downgrade in excess of three (3) percent.
- Wherever reasonably practical, onramps shall be constructed on a downward grade and offramps shall be constructed on an upward grade – so that gravity shall assist the acceleration of merging traffic and deceleration of diverging traffic. Such ramps shall be graded as appropriate and are not subject to the grade restrictions for TruckerState routes in general.
- In circumstances where tunnels are deemed necessary (or most practical), an additional ‘HazMat-only’ tunnel shall be provided in each direction of travel for Class-1 Explosives or any other hazardous cargo normally prohibited from utilizing tunnels. These tunnels shall be constructed in such a manner that, should any untoward incident occur within, such an incident will not pose undue structural risk to other nearby tunnels (of whatever nature). Such a tunnel shall offer a single travel lane sixteen (16) feet wide with a minimum overhead clearance of twenty (20) feet, as well as two shoulders twelve (12) feet wide each with minimum overhead clearances of sixteen (16) feet. Such a tunnel shall also have an adequate emergency response station immediately adjoining the tunnel’s entrance, capable of denying access to – and providing appropriate parking for – additional traffic in the event of such an emergency at a distance of no less than one-quarter mile (1280 feet) from said tunnel entrance. In time of specific military or similar need, such tunnel-prohibited vehicles may be escorted through the primary tunnel.
- At no time will there ever be “blanket” speed limits of any kind, posted or enforced, applicable to the through-lanes along TruckerState routes. Limited exceptions may be allowed where necessity dictates, and posted/enforced speed limits may be required on occasions as dictated by adverse weather conditions, but all reasonable efforts shall be made to avoid such situations wherever possible.
- Secured central rest areas shall be maintained approximately every twenty (20) miles along TruckerState routes, with each facility offering no less than twenty-five (25) 14′ by 90′ parking spaces and forty (40) 17′ by 180′ spaces per side.
- TruckerState-operated fueling and driver-convenience facilities shall be maintained approximately every one-hundred (100) miles along these routes. Each such facility shall additionally include localized emergency response services such as (but not limited to) fire, chemical, medical, roadside assistance, and enforcement. These facilities shall be operated in a manner competitively preferable to similar commercial services though – at a bare minimum – adequate to maintain self-sufficient funding for operational expenses. Such facilities shall maintain parking adequate for at least 110% of anticipated need, and shall serve in lieu of the required rest area.
- All enforcement, security, emergency, and/or other specific personnel operating within the TruckerState system shall be, or accorded legal enforcement authority equivalent to, duly-appointed US Federal Marshals or members of United States Military or National Guard – as deemed appropriate in each situation by the specific Operating Authority so designated under the United States Department of Transportation. Under such designation, their authority in general – and law enforcement in particular – is not and shall not be limited to the jurisdiction, domain, or other legal boundaries of the TruckerState system proper.
- On a quarterly fiscal basis, any and all revenues generated by the TruckerState system above and beyond operational expenses (including maintenance and security) not specifically earmarked for improvement or expansion of the TruckerState system itself shall be mileage-apportioned as additional funding towards the Interstate and US highways of the applicable States.
Let's be honest, shall we? Driving large trucks is a unique profession which few others can truly appreciate - the overwhelming majority of day-to-day drivers have little or no comprehension as to the unique demands of this occupation. In virtually every incident involving a collision between a large truck and a smaller vehicle, the smaller vehicle has been at fault for the collision. These trucks have more in common with freight trains than with parcel trucks.
The prohibition of private vehicles goes a long way towards expanding the operational capacities of commercial transportation. Limited to experienced commercial drivers opens TruckerState routes to Longer Combination Vehicles (LCVs):
- up to 185 feet in total length, though restricted to a maximum of four trailing units
- up to 185,000 pounds total gross weight, given compliance to Federal Bridge Law
- consistency elsewhere with existing grandfathered LCV regulations
Such restriction additionally enables 24-hour operation of both LCVs and over-dimensional loads, which are commonly restricted to hours of full daylight.
Beyond the long-term necessity of a trucks-only supplemental highway system is the economic necessity of the multitude of jobs this initiative will generate. As with FDR's Works Progress Administration and Eisenhower's Defense Highway, the initial stretch of the TruckerState System (TS-1) will create hundreds of thousands of much-needed jobs in and of itself, in addition to millions of additional jobs in restoring other portions of America's deteriorating highways.
Further is the creation of thousands of long-term jobs - the initial route (TS-1) alone will need 24/7 staffing at dozens of truck stops and other driver services, in addition to maintaining scores of rest areas. Even after the initial construction crews move on to rehabilitate existing roadways or expand the TruckerState system along new routes, thousands of newly-minted jobs will remain in perpetuity. Stockers, cashiers, and the like for the truck stops themselves; maids and maintenance workers for adjacent motels; janitors and groundskeepers throughout.
Like Roosevelt and Eisenhower, we have the rare opportunity to take a proactive initiative in regards to our infrastructure rather than limiting ourselves to reactive stopgap measures. Even with the drastic increases to population and truck traffic, the highways designed to last 40 years by people with slide rules have withstood much of what recent decades have thrown their way. We have learned volumes about construction since then and have access to materials beyond their wildest dreams - building highways which can endure near a full century is well within our capability!
What answers will we offer to future generations should we fail to seize this opportunity?
Immigration is a two-edged sword and it has been wielded with negligence and incompetence for far too long. Our laws and procedures for immigration are obsolete at best and, far more often, grossly inadequate. The one place I am in full agreement with Trump on this issue is the need for serious reform - though I disagree with him considerably on how this should be accomplished.
I wholeheartedly agree with "Trust-Buster" Theodore Roosevelt's proclamation that "a hyphenated American is no American at all". This is not racist, xenophobic, or any other such term which lobotomized liberals love to lob about, but an open and honest criticism of an individual's lack of commitment towards the Nation of which they are a part. You rarely (if ever) hear anyone to proclaim themselves to be an Irish-American, Italian-American, Scottish-American, Polish-American, or any other such nonsense - they are AMERICANS! Their allegiance is HERE and nowhere else. To be a hyphenated American is akin to marrying one person only to sleep with someone else.
What's more is that TRUE Americans immigrate to our shores all the time. People who are actually from Africa or India or Brazil who come to America for a better life, embrace the national identity for which they came, setting down their former affiliations, and donning the mantle of American Citizen. These people are among the most successful of Americans because they know first-hand what the rest of the world is like - unlike many native-born hyphenated Americans who strangely idolize/embrace a foreign culture they've never known.
In fact, it is this incessant clinging to these hyphenated monikers which are the greatest detriment to the social and economic success of many minorities. There are a great many Americans of Latino origin who have climbed the ranks to the echelons of power and prestige, same as there are a great many Americans of African origin who are music superstars, prestigious actors, and even President of the United States. Those who infantilize themselves by suckling on wishy-washy hyphenated identities are the ones who face the greatest difficulties in education, employment, and even their day-to-day social lives.
Part and parcel to immigrants and minorities embracing their identity as Americans is renewed application of the Pledge of Allegiance. As a purely secular ritual (with each freely opting to omit "under God" or to cite a similar sentiment of their own choosing), there is no conflict of Church and State. The Pledge has served well for well over a century to unite people of all creeds and origins with their shared identities as American citizens - indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.
Insofar as Latino immigration and the American border with Mexico is concerned, the proposed wall won't accomplish anything. In fact, it would only serve to exacerbate the problem and lead to a sizable INCREASE in illegal immigration.
The REAL solution in this regard is three-fold:
- Unfortunately, the first step would indeed be harsher punishments and penalties for illegal immigration. Laws are laws and, despite mostly being good honest people, they ARE breaking the law. Reasonable laws which need to be enforced.
- The second step would be to look past the symptom (illegal immigration) and crack down hard on the root cause - those within the United States who prey upon illegal immigrants, actively encouraging such violations in the process.
- The flip-side of this is that the harsher enforcement would be accompanied by broadening and streamlining the process for legal immigration. The actual process for citizenship, as well, should be swept clear of obstreperous red tape and simplified as much as possible.
The biggest liability of obsessive border control is that no defense is ever foolproof. A border wall would make things more difficult to enter the United States, yet that would actually do more to keep illegal immigrants within our border than keeping them out.
If we become more liberal with things such as work visas these immigrants can come to America LEGALLY, earn a respectable wage for a time, then return home to Mexico to share the bounty with their families. If we instead clamp down our borders, not only are they more likely to bring their families with them and never go back but their fugitive status actively curtails their earnings - forcing additional hardships upon them as well as encouraging them to engage in other criminal activities simply to survive.
The exact rates for permanent immigration still need to be determined (overseas as well as domestic), though I expect that legal migratory immigration (not as citizens, but temporary residents with employment and civil rights) can and would increase considerably.
One of America's greatest virtues is the freedom to worship as you choose. Of course the caveat which some people have a tendency to overlook is that freedom comes with the commensurate obligation to show the same tolerance towards others. For centuries, numerous faiths have interacted and coexisted peacefully throughout the United States - even a great number of Islamic Muslims.
As with the hyphenated identities, the problem comes from those who do NOT respect the rights of others. The 2016 terrorist attack on a nightclub in Orlando, Florida which left 49 people dead and another 53 wounded. The back-to-back butchering in Bangladesh of a university professor simply because he was atheist and two gay rights activists for "promoting homosexuality". The list goes on and on and on! These attacks upon innocent Americans have escalated in both frequency and severity since the terrorist attacks upon the World Trade Center, Pentagon, and White House.
Our government has both the right and the obligation to protect its citizens against such dangers, both foreign and domestic. This is not a case of 'a few bad apples' - most reliable sources cite that 20% to 30% of Islamic Muslims are emphatically dedicated towards the utter destruction of western civilization. That's at least one 'bad apple' for every man, woman, and child in the United States!
I would need a fair amount of time and a great deal more information in order to try to formulate potential solutions, but the only surety is that this situation simply cannot be permitted to remain unaddressed. In the meantime, this would unfortunately necessitate a temporary moratorium on immigration by Islamic Muslims. Some problems in life, sadly, lack satisfying solutions and sometimes have no solution at all.