Transportation Nation has created an interactive graph showing how President Obama’s focus on transportation policy shifted in 2011—from expanding and building upon the existing infrastructure to simply maintaining it. The graph shows, month-to-month, how many times important key words related to national transportation topics were uttered by the president in speeches—specifically “rail,” “construction,” “roads,” “transit,” “bridges,” “highways,” “airports,” and “ports.”
The data illustrates how the president shifted his focus from ambitious plans like high-speed rail to policies focused more on short-term job creation like road and bridge repair. The interactive graph allows the user to scroll month-by-month throughout the year, noting key news and policy highlights that may have caused the changes in focus.
Transportation utterances by the president peaked in September, as he introduced his jobs bill. Understandably, the focus here was on shovel-ready projects with the potential for quick job creation. As such, mentions of “construction,” bridges,” and “roads” far outweighed more long-term topics like transit and rail.