Better Roads Staff
Inside the highway and bridge industries
The ups/downs of an infrastructure bank
Would an infrastrsucture bank work? Would it be a major factor in funding vital future work and development?
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has released a report looking into its possibilities.
A federal infrastructure bank could play a limited role in enhancing investment in surface transportation projects, says CBO, by:
• Providing new federal subsidies (in the form of loans or loan guarantees) to a limited number of large projects and
• Allowing the benefits of potential projects to be more readily compared in a competitive selection process.
A potential advantage of such a bank, according to the report, is that it could encourage sponsors of projects to charge users for the benefits they receive, lowering project subsidies to a small percentage of total costs. It could also overcome certain barriers to the financing of multijurisdictional or multimodal projects.
But, says CBO, a key limitation of providing funding through a federal infrastructure bank is that only some surface transportation projects would be good candidates for such funding, because most projects do not involve tolls or other mechanisms to collect funds directly from project users or other beneficiaries.
A second drawback is that the support offered for surface transportation by most proposed infrastructure banks would not differ substantially from the loans and loan guarantees already offered by the Department of Transportation (DOT) through its Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.
But keep this in mind: The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that we need another $13 billion a year spent on transporation infrastructrure to keep it in its present state and $83 billion a year to do everything we should be doing.
Existing U.S. state infrastructure banks “generally function as independent entities,” says CBO, but a federal IB would be part of the federal government.
“From an environmental perspective transit doesn’t have much to recommend it.”
- National Center for Policy Analysis Senior Fellow H. Sterling Burnett
50th and Last
Hawaii now has a law requiring motorists to move over a lane, or at least slow down, when approaching stopped emergency vehicles. It was the only state not to have a “move over” bill. Reports say the death of two police officers while on traffic stops made the difference this year after attempts in the past stalled.
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