Zera's Blog

A Citizen's View from Main Street

States Struggle For Money, Political Will To Fix America’s Failing Roads


Every road and bridge we build includes an ongoing commitment to maintenanc­e. Repairing roads, plowing snow (clearing rockfalls and blown sand/dirt?­), painting and inspecting bridges – and repairing structural weaknesses – and then there is traffic management­, which is becoming a science all its own.

If driving surfaces are allowed to deteriorate, the cost of vehicle damage goes up, as does the possibility of accidents – which leads to higher insurance costs. Not keeping traffic lanes clear also leads to accidents, congestion (and higher fuel costs) and reduced accessibility to emergency services. Without a protective coat of paint, metal bridges rust, corrode, and become less safe and more expensive to keep in service.

Population growth leads to increased congestion, which means wasted gas, higher demand/prices, more air pollution, wasted time and lost productivity, frustration and road rage.

Minneapolis bridge collapse

Minneapolis bridge collapse

But we are rapidly using up the land, and there are both financial and physical limits to expanding our transporta­tion infrastruc­ture. It is inevitable that we begin shifting back to mass transporta­tion of some type.

After Katrina, New Orleans had an opportunit­y to redesign the city and its transporta­tion system in a more effective and protected manor. I was disappoint­ed that the possibilit­y was never seriously discussed.

A few years ago, there was only one train route that would carry cars piggyback. With growing congestion­, drowsy driving, and road rage, it seems like a good idea to be able to park your car on a train and let someone else do the driving. If it cost little more than gas, tolls, and an overnight stay – and you could eat, sleep, work, read, study, surf the Internet, or even just watch the landscape go by, and not worry about traffic, turnoffs, or accidents, it would seem like a really good deal for longer trips. Being able to pack your own vehicle and have it there when you arrive would beat the heck out of flying if time was not critical.

Higher gas mileage undermines the effectiven­ess of gas taxes to fund transporta­tion costs. The correspondence between gallons of gas and miles driven is becoming variable. One solution that has been floated is to track vehicles by GPS and charge by the mile. I would rather pay a mileage tax when renewing my vehicle plates than have my every movement tracked and recorded by GPS.
Read the Article at HuffingtonPost

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September 19, 2011 - Posted by | Governance, Transportation | , , , ,

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