Spend money on Earth

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I read with interest Bill Oesterle’s recent op-ed [Let’s get audacious and shoot for the stars—literally, Forefront, May 10]. I find it odd that Mr. Oesterle would casually dismiss needed infrastructure improvements as “big spending.” Would anyone argue that our country’s infrastructure doesn’t need improvement? There’s a reason congressional Democrats and the Trump administration came together on that issue when they can’t on anything else: It is long overdue.

The American Society of Civil Engineers estimates that the U.S. needs approximately $4.5 trillion in infrastructure investment by 2025 to address our aging bridges, roads, airports, dams and so on. Remember the water pipe breakage late last year downtown? Those water mains were installed in 1875, when Ulysses S. Grant was president.

I don’t think it’s necessary for me to bring up the potholes or the general condition of our roads. Want to get audacious? Consider a real public transit system in central Indiana. No, not buses: a modern rail system. If we truly want Indianapolis to be a jewel, it starts there. The roads will be less congested and suffer less wear and tear. It would lower traffic fatalities, allow easier transportation for those who can’t afford cars, reduce pollution, and help the elderly and infirm get to places easier.

Infrastructure admittedly isn’t a sexy topic. It won’t raise eyebrows in the way a space-related project would. While no one wants wasteful spending, sometimes you get exactly what you pay for (or in this case, don’t pay for). In our willingness to overlook infrastructure, we will pay a far greater price than if it is addressed proactively. Why look to the stars when the ground below us is crumbling?

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Nick McLain

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