The I'm Stuck app allows delayed commuters to immediately notify local government officials.

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The Road to Infrastructure Improvements Starts with This App

Congress needs to know how miserable traffic jams are.

Tired of endless delays that leave you waiting at bus stops and train stations? Frustrated by being stuck in traffic during your daily commute? Spending part of your vacation stuck on the tarmac?

Thanks to the team at Building America’s Future (BAF), a bipartisan coalition advocating investment in the country’s infrastructure, there’s now an app for that: I’m Stuck.

The free app, available for both iOS and Android, allows disgruntled travelers to document delays, jams and overcrowding in our transit system, automatically forwarding a location and picture to their member of Congress. I’m Stuck channels all that griping about our inefficient, outmoded and underfunded infrastructure into direct political action. Although it may not provide instant relief for travel-related woes, a groundswell of disapproval may draw politicians attention to the problem over the long haul.

“Usually commuters think traffic is like weather: It is something that happens to them, and they have no control over it. But that isn’t the case at all,” says former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, who co-chairs BAF with former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray La Hood, former NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “The policies we put in place, or the lack of a coherent long-term infrastructure plan, directly impacts the daily experience of Americans trying to get around their communities. This app gives commuters and passengers a tool to voice their frustrations to Congress. It is called ‘I’m Stuck,’ but the truth is America is stuck until Washington takes action.”

It’s clear that American’s infrastructure is in desperate need of an upgrade. In their latest annual report, the American Society of Civil Engineers gave the nation a failing grade of D+. To get the country where it needs to be by 2020, they suggest at least $3.6 trillion needs to be invested in unstable bridges, congested airports and pothole-riddled roads.

BAF’s team says the idea for the app arose during brainstorming sessions about how to engage the public in a notoriously dry topic. Instead of circulating petitions about bills like Sen. Bernie Sander’s $1 trillion investment plan, a $50 billion bond sale or a proposed hike in the gas tax — topics that, they say, frankly make people’s eyes glaze over — BAF encourages people to share their everyday experience as it happens. (For safety, they suggest passing your phone to a disgruntled passenger if driving.) So far, the app has been downloaded 16,180 times across all 50 states, and more than 12,000 emails have been sent to representatives in Congress.

“‘I’m Stuck’ is going to bring elected officials closer to the people on the ground,” says BAF’s president Marcia Hale, sharing with them the everyday “pain and frustration of outdated and overburdened transportation systems.”

If the app registers enough irritation about gridlock on the freeway, as BAF hopes, it could eventually beat the worst gridlock in the country: the one that clogs the halls of Congress.

Want to see where your fellow Americans are getting stuck? Check out the interactive map here.

(Homepage image: Andreas Rentz/Getty Images)

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Chris Peak is a staff writer for NationSwell. He previously worked for Newsday, the San Francisco Public Press and the Point Reyes Light. Contact him at [email protected]