Photo by MikeWebkist on Flickr.

If a visitor who knew nothing about geopolitics came to Washington, would he see the dazzling capital of the most powerful nation in the world, as Americans like to think we are and always will be? Or might he conclude, looking at our public works, that this nation’s best days ended around the time of President Kennedy?

Take Dulles International Airport, our gateway for many international visitors. It boasts a beautiful, architecturally renowned terminal — that was built in 1956. Almost every part of the facility newer than that seems shoehorned in, such as the escalators from the A gates to the new AirTrain or the long underground walkway to the now-29-year-old “temporary” C gates. We are building a Metro line to the airport, but it will inconveniently deposit passengers in a parking garage 600 feet from the terminal.

Union Station, long the front door to the capital, is an even more breathtaking structure. Our nation once let it fall into disrepair, then finally fixed it up, mainly to create a shopping mall. Today, the experience for anyone getting off a train into Washington or, worse yet, trying to board one involves massive jams just to get out of the connected Metro station and grossly overcrowded waiting areas that seem almost an afterthought.

Read more at my latest op-ed in the Washington Post.

David Alpert is Founder and President of Greater Greater Washington and Executive Director of DC Sustainable Transportation (DCST). He worked as a Product Manager for Google for six years and has lived in the Boston, San Francisco, and New York metro areas in addition to Washington, DC. He lives with his wife and two children in Dupont Circle. Unless otherwise noted, opinions in his GGWash posts are his and not the official views of GGWash or DCST.