Better Roads Staff
Inside the highway and bridge industries
By John Latta, Tina Grady Barbaccia and Mike Anderson
You’re out of touch and we don’t trust you.
Most Americans think their transportation system is in bad shape. But they prefer tolls to an increased gas tax to find funds to fix it.
The latest Reason-Rupe public opinion survey, conducted in December, found that more than half of Americans think their area’s transportation system is only fair or poor says, Robert W. Poole, Jr. Director of Transportation Studies for the Reason Foundation. Nearly half think congestion has gotten worse over the past five years, and 54 percent think it will get worse in the coming five years.
But 77 percent oppose increasing the federal gas tax, apparently, says Poole, not trusting Congress to spend the proceeds on improving their travels. Instead, they favor using tolls for new capacity, with 58 percent preferring new highway capacity paid for by tolls (especially if it saved them time)than by increased gas taxes (28 percent). And 57 percent support converting existing HOV lanes into HOT lanes.
The report shows significant segment of the American public upset across at federal transportation policies backing rail and bus riding. The feds have spent $8 billion to fund high-speed rail, but, says the report, only 34 percent, think government should do this and more than half (55 percent) think high speed rail should only be built where there are enough people to pay high enough fares to make it work without subsidy.
“In addition,” says Poole, “while Congress devotes 20 percent” of Highway Trust Fund spending to mass transit, 48 percent of Americans think that transit should receive no more of transportation funding than its share in travel. In most places, says Poole, that would be less than 5 percent.
“Some would call it random luck; I, and others, believe it is divine intervention,”
—Guam Governor Eddie Calvo after a runaway dump truck missed him by five feet before ramming into a loaded fuel tanker which did not explode.
Change the rules for P3s says Heritage Report
A new report from the Heritage Foundation, Can Public-Private Partnerships Fill the Transportation Funding Gap, says the federal government needs to allow states more freedom to use P3s, and states need to adopt the policies and practices needed to use P3s effectively.
Federal and state governments should take several steps, says the report, including:
• Congress should remove or raise the limit on private activity bond volume for all qualified P3 projects.
• The states should enact the necessary legislation to accommodate P3s. Recent efforts to enact such laws in New Jersey and New York failed as a result of union opposition.
• State departments of transportation should ensure that the responsible managers and staff are qualified to conclude these complicated deals successfully.