INTERACTIVE CHART: From One State of the Union to the Next; A Shift from Building the New to Fixing the Old

Friday, January 20, 2012 - 09:05 AM

President Obama began 2011 arguing in lofty terms for building 21st century infrastructure. He ended it pleading for the maintenance of our 20th century roads and bridges. Transportation Nation analyzed the number of times he mentioned various infrastructure-related words over the course of the year. As the chart shows, he shifted from regularly mentioning ambitious, long term projects like high-speed rail, to calling for repair of our roads and bridges as a means to spur construction jobs.

For a year in review of infrastructure and transportation policy extracted from this data, mouse over the chart month by month. Play with the chart to see how different issues trended over time. Here's the full dataset if you want to make your own charts, just credit us and let us know.

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Comments [3]

Patrice Showers Corneli

This is a very sad story. We so need to more progress on rail and other alternative transportation methods. With a reasonable Congress (Democrats and Republicans responding to the needs of the country) the President may well have made progress on his very practical plan for modernizing transportation. We have an obstructionist Congress and that is the problem. The President can not make these long needed changes on his own.

Jan. 24 2012 07:42 AM
Chuck Gomez

I am an independent filmmaker living in Uptown Manhattan Inwood. I have been working in and out of New York various television jobs. Living out of New York is another world. I grew up on the 8th Avenue subway (A train line) and enjoyed the freedom of exploration and independent thinking whom was not enslaved to an automobile. I value the railroads here in our country, and hope one day we can evolve into a society that values communities depended on rail transportation. Rail transportation allows passengers to learn humility, diversity, and creativity. The New York Subway has no class system. Passenger rail doesn't discriminate between the various diversity of economic class amount people or passengers. Furthermore, long distance rail travel offer passengers to meet new people in the dinning car and the need to appreciate the passage of time. Who cares that the distance between Chicago and New York is 21 hours. During that time people can read, open up to meet new people, see amazing sites from their windows, and truly see the amazing riches of our country. Southwest Airlines is a joke!!! If you consider Southwest Airlines civilized travel then you are crazier than my wife!!! Listen, if I want to be coupe up in a "risk taking flying machine.." then I rather take my chances on the 8th Ave Express train from 125th Street to 34th Street. If, you have 350.00 to spend on air travel, then you can invest that same amount into a train ride in a luxury sleep in which currently Amtrak has to offer!!!! I am sick of air congesting, I sick of oil consumption, and I sick of my nation fueling a war in the middle east because my fellow citizens cannot stand to enjoy a lovely train ride of 21 hours than to wasting 300 barrels of oil for a 3 hour flight to Chicago. In closing.... I have a dream in making a film about High Speed rail, and hoping to get "Right & Left" views on rail Infrastructure here in America. I am curious... what is your rail story? I love railroads and I hope in my life time to see at least one complete 300 speed short rail system built from DC to B-town / LA to SF. Thank you for listening. 常勝

Jan. 23 2012 12:27 PM
John Hopkins

Nice chart! The framing of your lead-in, though, suggests that President Obama was doing some kind of flip-flop -- as if changing tack was somehow disreputable. In my view the president's recent emphasis on repair of existing infrastructure is quite realistic. In fact, because much of America is already oversupplied with highways, many in the advocacy community have been urging "fix it first" rather than building new. That's a wiser use of declining transportation tax revenue.

Jan. 20 2012 12:16 PM

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