(ETW April Fools) USDOT Staffer Makes Shocking Discovery of the 21st Century

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Navy Yard was buzzing with excitement on Friday after a junior policy analyst at the U.S. Department of Transportation made a startling discovery.

The repercussions were felt across the complex almost immediately as the analyst rushed the information to his manager, who brought it to his manager, who brought it to her manager, all the way up the chain to Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao.

Chao emerged from 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE a few hours later, looking visibly shaken. “Today, one of our staffers made a groundbreaking discovery. We are, today – in the year of our lord, 2017 – actually living, traveling, and even working on 21st Century infrastructure today.”

“I know this will come as a shock to many Americans,” she said. “But while our colleagues in Congress have been working tirelessly to build 21st Century infrastructure, it seems they were too busy to notice that 17 years of it have already passed us by.”

“Indeed, our roads and bridges and trains and airports are all 21st century infrastructure,” she stated, her voice quivering.

A hush fell among the reporters at the press conference before a reporter from CQ Roll Call hesitantly raised his hand. “So, um… what does this mean for Congress’ 21st Century Infrastructure initiative?”

Chao pursed her lips. “It is unclear how – or if – [House Transportation Chairman] Shuster will modify the Building 21 plan,” she said, using the short name for the 2017 initiative that has been focused on building infrastructure befitting a century that America has already been in for 17 years.

In an exclusive interview with ETW following the announcement, Shuster was alarmed and dismayed. Staffers and interns scrambled around the office behind him, flipping through calendars and House schedules to find out when – and how – the nation had slipped into the 21st Century without them noticing.

“Life comes at you fast,” he mused, stroking his beard. “I don’t know how we didn’t see this when we were writing MAP-21 – I mean, it was in the name for chrissake,” he said, referring to the 2012 transportation bill, Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century.

As ETW has covered previously, 21st Century infrastructure initiatives are not new to Congress. Former House Transportation chairman Jim Oberstar lauded a modern, tech-based infrastructure movement in earnest in a speech at the 21st Century Infrastructure Symposium in 1997:

“If our current approach to solving congestion, pollution, and 40,000 highway deaths a year – pouring more concrete and more asphalt – sounds like slugging away at a problem rather than solving it, then it’s time for an intelligent approach to the future of transportation: an Intelligent Transportation System.”

Nevertheless, Shuster remains bullish on the prospects of a modern transportation network.

“I don’t know what they’re doing down there in Navy Yard, but we’ve got real, tangible progress to make on building America’s infrastructure up here – no matter what year or millennium it is.” Shuster said.

“In fact,” he leaned in, lowering his voice. “I already have staff working on a plan for 22nd Century infrastructure that is really going to drive America into the future.”

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