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We Don't Need More Highways

timothy posted about a year and a half ago | from the we-need-more-hang-gliders dept.

Transportation 244

Hugh Pickens writes "When it comes to infrastructure, politicians usually prefer shiny new projects over humdrum repairs. A brand-new highway is exciting: There's a ribbon-cutting, and there's less need to clog up existing lanes with orange cones and repair crews. So it's not surprising that 57 percent of all state highway funding goes toward new construction, often stretching out to the suburbs, even though new roads represent just 1.3 percent of the overall system. Now Brad Plumer writes in the Washington Post that many transportation reformers think this is a wrong-headed approach and that we should focus our dollars on fixing and upgrading existing infrastructure rather than continuing to build sprawling new roads). UCLA economist Matthew Kahn and the University of Minnesota's David Levinson made a more detailed case for a 'fix-it first' strategy. They noted that, at the moment, federal highway spending doesn't get subjected to strict cost-benefit analysis, and governments often build new roads when they arguably shouldn't (PDF). And that's to say nothing of data suggesting that poor road conditions are a 'significant factor' in one-third of all fatal crashes, and cause extra wear and tear on cars."

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244 comments

Dicks (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567131)

Fuck my ass, please. I love throbbing hard cocks.

how about high speed rail instead? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567133)

do we really need more gas guzzlers chugging along a bunch of asphalt strips to no where?

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567183)

Get your fucking commie talk out of here! Go back to Russia!

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (4, Insightful)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567209)

Or Europe, or Japan, or really anywhere except the US.

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567363)

Woosh.

That goes for the moderators too.

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (0)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567233)

We have airplanes

Wtf is the point in spending all that money building metal lines On the ground when you can just fly instead

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (4, Informative)

Joce640k (829181) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567309)

Yeah. We know that no American cares about using less of anything, the idea of life is to use as much as possible, but...

Comfort? Being able to get up and walk around? No luggage limit (within reason)? No standing in line for check-in. You can have a proper table of you want and a mains plug. Use a phone (but out in the corridor, please). When you arrive you're in the middle of the city, not ten miles out and you don't have to stand around for half an hour in the baggage area.

Train travel is a much nicer experience than flying.

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (4, Interesting)

supercrisp (936036) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567561)

There are legitimate reasons that high-speed rail won't work in the U.S.. I say this as someone who LOVES high-speed rail when I'm in Europe. But the U.S. is bigger, cities are farther apart, and we have far more autos already. It is often cheaper and more convenient to drive. That's hard to beat. It's also very difficult to find economically feasible routes to create. And to create such routes would require tremendous investments in infrastructure overhaul/creation. And to cap it off, we have a relatively cheap air transport system in place. It's a tough situation. Again, I'd love to see high speed or even moderate speed rail. But. Say there was a moderate-speed train to Atlanta, a trip my family takes a few times a year, three or four hours by car. It would be very unlikely that this would economically better for us. There already exists an extremely cheap bus system, $10 a person to ATL. But gas is cheaper. And even if it weren't, we'd be dropped in a city that has a workable but not great public transport system, so that getting around for a day's recreation, we'd lose hours of time and spend even more money. That's what you're up against in the U.S.: the whole transportation system is designed around cars, and it works well enough that there's a big performance gap between the auto-focused system and a system of public transport that would be economically viable and convenient enough to get people to use it. So we're in a situation where someone like me, who used to be in the Green party when I had one to be in, will drive instead of use mass-transit, simply because it would probably cost me $75 more for a day's travel and would take prohibitive amounts of time, at least for the typical day we spend in ATL now and then.

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (0)

flyneye (84093) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567251)

Even as we transition to electric go carts, unless we build new and bigger highways, the gridlock to get home will be intolerable as the population thickens. Inevitably, there will be neighborhoods where you don't want to get stuck in traffic because some greenie didn't put a highway between work and your home. so now you drive 4 hours a day to work 8+ hours a day and average 3+ useful hours of useful time to have a life. So then we pack into the cities to be closer to work. Now Kansas City can start to look like Tokyo and New York can look like a cyberpunk sprawl.

What a good green idea, let's have no new highways for a growing population.

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (1)

mrchaotica (681592) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567335)

What "growing population?" Europe's is not growing. Japan's is declining. The United States' is barely growing (and the rate of growth is rapidly decelerating).

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (2)

JakeBurn (2731457) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567555)

Europe has positive population growth.
Japan has only had three negative growth years over the last 50 and is currently positive.
The US has hovered around 10% for the last 50 years.
1960-1970 13% increase
1970-1980 11% increase
1980-1990 10% increase
1990-2000 13% increase
2000-2010 9% increase
Its a good thing people on the internet actually know what they're talking about.
And even if you are too incompetent to google population growth data, any increase of cars on already crowded roads is a problem.

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (5, Insightful)

SydShamino (547793) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567473)

Elevators represents a convenient ride home for tens and hundreds of thousands of people who prefer that lifestyle. And "if some greenie didn't put a highway between work and your home" why do you live there? Live somewhere else, work somewhere else, or find a way to telecommute. Why does the free market suddenly fail and "this is the only job I'll ever find and thus the world has to change to make it convenient for me" suddenly pop out of Slashdot as soon as we start talking about the road network?

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (1)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567629)

The go-carts (I prefer "golf carts" which is probably closer to the truth) go nicely with rail. You don't add highways, you add rail, probably up the middle of the highways. The golf carts can be loaded onto the trains, or parked in half the space of the cars.

Re:how about high speed rail instead? (1)

firex726 (1188453) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567627)

Here in Texas they tried years ago and are trying again.

Problem though was the initial attempt failed because the oil companies and airlines got laws passed making it nearly impossible for one to be built.

I agree! (2, Funny)

cnaumann (466328) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567145)

But can we do this after the Memphis-Huntsville-Atlanta section of I-30 gets planned and built?

Re:I agree! (2)

Burdell (228580) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567399)

Yes please! Of course, at the rate Alabama road crews build highways, I'd die of old age before it opened (even if they started tomorrow).

oh I know! is the answer public transport? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567149)

No, sorry, that's not nearly inefficient enough for the oil lobby. Only communists use buses.

Also why has the Slashdot logo been made into a cock+balls? YHBT?

Re:oh I know! is the answer public transport? (2)

FishTankX (1539069) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567479)

Just build a special lane for the buses and make them go 150MPH and computer controlled with a bus driver for emergencies. Problem solved. Gas guzzling, efficent, and fast.

Government roads (2, Funny)

darjen (879890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567163)

Government is the reason we don't have more efficient transportation. Our politicians decided that everyone should drive, so they took our money and built lots of congested highways. Here is what we really need:

FREE MARKET TRANSPORTATION: DENATIONALIZING THE ROADS* by Walter Block. Department of Economics. Rutgers University, Newark. [mises.org]

Re:Government roads (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567175)

No, it's the selfish U.S. electorate that thinks that everyone needs their own car that prevents more efficient transportation from being built. It's not "duh gubmint" preventing anything. If that were the case why is it that the governments in Southeast Asia built all sorts of high-speed trains and extensive rail and bus systems?

Re:Government roads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567271)

governments in Southeast Asia built all sorts of high-speed trains and extensive rail and bus systems?

You might need to relearn your geography some. I mean, the BTS in Bangkok is nice, but that Bangkok to Chiang Mai line is slower than an elephant.

Re:Government roads (0)

outsider007 (115534) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567403)

Americans need their own car because each one of them is manifesting their own destiny. If humanity needs to pick up the bill in terms of carbon emissions, so be it. We all know that true progress only ever happens on American time. USA, USA,

Re:Government roads (3, Insightful)

Entrope (68843) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567483)

The efficiency of mass transit goes up at least linearly with population density. In the US, only some large city routes reach break-even for mass transit versus individual transit, and in most of those one pays a cost in transit time in order to realize the relative gains for other resources. (Side note: Many of those routes depend on subsidies to gain enough riders for break-even, and those cities' transit systems tend to have a lot of other routes that don't break even.)

Re:Government roads (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567497)

Efficient in whose eyes? I prefer a car that goes directly from point A to B on my schedule, to a train that has me walk or drive to point C, then get off at point D, then take a bus to get to point B. Perhaps you have a surplus of idle time to ride the choo-choo and see the sights, but some of us are working under a tighter schedule.

Re:Government roads (4, Insightful)

AHuxley (892839) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567197)

While the US is sitting in rusting cold war transport networks and wondering who to blame ...
Your highways where built for troops and war... and getting your political elite out of cities ...
ie very efficient transportation - just not for you.
China is funding a rail system in Turkey for $35 billion.
http://www.todayszaman.com/newsDetail_getNewsById.action?newsId=277360 [todayszaman.com]
Long term thats China to Spain and England by rail. No roads, no shipping.

Re:Government roads (1, Interesting)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567237)

In the USA we have airplanes

When I went to visit family 1600 away two months ago it took me all of 4 hours to fly there

Re:Government roads (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567325)

Plus the hour drive to the airport, and the two hour wait before hand for security and boarding, and the hour drive at the other end of the flight to your destination. So, yeah.

Re:Government roads (2)

thePowerOfGrayskull (905905) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567457)

Assuming those numbers are accurate = 4 hours + 2 + 1 = 7 hours. For 1600 miles - 24 miles of uninterrupted driving assuming no traffic and no gas stops. I'd still call that a bargain.

I hate the experience of flying, but when it comes to getting to the other side of the country quickly... there aren't any better options. If I had a couple of spare weeks to make the round trip, I'd drive it - but I seldom have that luxury.

Re:Government roads (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567349)

Why is this stupid comment modded as "interesting"? Pretty much every country on earth has airplanes. Secondly, it is not practical or possible to fly to all destinations. Many trips would still require driving to the final destination after flying.

Re:Government roads (1)

alen (225700) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567371)

because even though my family lives out in the boonies it only takes an hour to drive from the airport. where i live its only like 10-15 minutes and with electronic boarding passes and curbside baggage you don't need to get there 2 hours prior. if you send all your info to the TSA you can get faster security line access at a lot of airports depending on the airline.

and with the USA and suburban living the high speed rail has to stop at the suburban stations or there won't be anyone to ride it. check out the Acela stops. some stops are like 10 minutes apart

Re:Government roads (1)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567569)

Which is great and all but doesn't address what I said. You can not fly everywhere. Driving is still required. Also, flying to the city that is 30 minutes away that I can just drive to on I-35 would be both extremely expensive and a huge waste of fuel.

Re:Government roads (1)

drjzzz (150299) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567391)

Can somebody spare some "troll" karma for this post?

Nobody proposes that high speed rail can replace the airplane for long distance travel (100-600 miles, approximately). That said, I would (rather) like to see cars develop networking capabilities that would allow them to travel safely and efficiently in tight, slipstream packs on highways, where about half a single car's energy is spent (wasted) overcoming air resistance.

Re:Government roads (1)

drjzzz (150299) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567405)

I hereby retract my call to heap troll karma on alen's post. A moment's reflection led me to realize that I'm not even sure I know what troll karma is. I apologize and welcome alen's ideas. Carry on.

Re:Government roads (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567589)

Can somebody spare some "troll" karma for this post?

I hereby retract my call to heap troll karma on alen's post. A moment's reflection led me to realize that I'm not even sure I know what troll karma is. I apologize and welcome alen's ideas. Carry on.

Oh, I thought you meant YOUR post as if you were doing a more direct version of the reverse-psychology call for moderation thing. "Ill get modded down for this but..."

Re:Government roads (2)

houghi (78078) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567563)

So? I live in Europe and do the same for longer distances. However not all trips are that long. Do you know how I get to that airport? By train.

From 621M (1000KM) on I will start looking if train or plane is more interesting. And even then it might be a combination. It will depend on several factors.

I also sometimes drive 1000+KM. One trip I made was 2500KM.

People I know would take a train, where I would take a plane and the other way around for various reasons. Sometimes the trip is more important then the arrival.

But what is more important to me is not if the plane, train, boat, car, bike or donkey is better for everybody. For me what is important is that I have a choice.

Re:Government roads (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567471)

What, not ANOTHER person who fell for the "military autobahns" myth. Nazi Germany moved its troops around by rail.

And I don't envy the Turks their Chinese rail system. This would be the same one that crashed last year in Wenzhou. It will be shoddily built and have problems from day one. I also note that China had no problems confiscating land from the little people to build rail - something that Americans typically don't like at all. But hey, the Interstate highway system is just a rusting cold war relic. Right. +4 Informative. *sigh*

Re:Government roads (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567583)

What, not ANOTHER person who fell for the "military autobahns" myth. Nazi Germany moved its troops around by rail.

Yes, and the interstate highway system was designed to do the same thing in the USA. We regularly move warmachines around by road and have let our rail networks atrophy, so I'd say it's pretty accurate. On the other hand, we do still have sufficient rail networks to deliver warmachines; the rails still go to [some of] the auto plants, which in wartime will be converted to military production lines.

I also note that China had no problems confiscating land from the little people to build rail - something that Americans typically don't like at all.

In the USA you are permitted to talk about these subjects. But for some reason (presumably refined propaganda) people aren't so familiar with the history behind the interstate highway system. We have built an entire car culture around the interstates and it's difficult to imagine life without them in spite of the fact that... wait, let me let you interject.

But hey, the Interstate highway system is just a rusting cold war relic. Right. +4 Informative. *sigh*

Only when cities are near each other on each side of a state border do interstate highways actually get used for interstate travel aside from long-haul freight that's more likely to go through most states than to them. We would better be served by an interstate rail network. Travelers could rent a vehicle at the other end, or they could drive small, light vehicles designed to be loaded onto trains. Let states handle highways and leave the federal government out of it aside from providing minimum standards for safety and emissions. If there is sufficient continuing demand for interstate routes then the states can maintain them without interference, and auto travelers can choose their routes in part based on the quality of roads between where they are and where they want to go, just like they do now.

Re:Government roads (4, Interesting)

kbonin (58917) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567229)

I read the linked paper, and while interesting, it typifies one of the critical flaws in the extreme Libertarian model - there are a set of cases where for-profit private enterprise is a bad solution, such as where it is not practical to provide an reasonably large number of easements to setup competing infrastructures. Where constraints exist that facilitate natural monopolies, history has shown that it IS in the public interest to preclude predatory practices, as unchecked for-profit private enterprise will always seek maximum return on investment, leading to predatory practices. While it is true that modern government bureaucracies have demonstrated themselves to be extremely inefficient managers of infrastructure, they are arguably better than an unchecked predatory monopoly. Legal mechanisms like the Sherman Antitrust Act, while anathema to an extreme Libertarian, have proven highly valuable in the past. And circling back to the original point, given the critical nature of roads, and the time period required to execute a a negative feedback cycle through the legal system, I personally believe that unfettered privatization of all roads would be a good way to grind a modern civilization to its knees.

Re:Government roads (1)

darjen (879890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567437)

What reasons are there for advocating the free market approach for the highway industry? First and foremost is the fact that the present government ownership and management has failed. The death toll, the suffocation during urban rush hours, and the poor state of repair of the highway stock, are all eloquent testimony to the lack of success which has marked the reign of government control. Second, and perhaps even more important, is a reason for this state of affairs. It is by no means an accident that government operation has proven to be a debacle, and that private enterprise can succeed where government has failed.

Just as in other businesses, there would be facets peculiar to this particular industry. The road entrepreneur would have to try to contain congestion, reduce traffic accidents, plan and design new facilities in coordination with already existing highways, as well as with the plans of others for new expansion. He would have to set up the "rules of the road" so as best to accomplish these and other goals. The road industry would be expected to carry on each and every one of the tasks now undertaken by public roads authorities: fill potholes, install road signs, guard rails, maintain lane markings, repair traffic signals, and so on for the myriad of "road furniture" that keeps traffic moving.

Applying the concepts of profit and loss to the road industry, we can see why privatization would almost certainly mean a gain compared to the present nationalized system of road management.

Re:Government roads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567487)

All of the things you say the government has done wrong with the highway industry are caused by the fiscally conservative wing of the government that doesn't like to spend money on things like highway repair. Therefore it's disingenuous to say that the government has failed so fiscal conservatives have the answer. They don't. They have the problem.

Re:Government roads (0)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567585)

Yep. The right-wing routinely implements policies that make the government less able to do its job properly and then at the same time whines about how inefficient the government is. The saddest part is all the people who eat this shit up not realizing that they are being played.

Re:Government roads (1)

drjzzz (150299) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567533)

What if a community of citizens decides they want a new road? They might agree to build it and finance it by a community tax. This would be possible even in a libertarian Utopia, correct? Even if some in their community object (who might also object to a single citizen building the same road), so long as there is a majority in favor, it seems they should be able to proceed. Is that not, in aggregate, what a well-functioning government does? Maybe it is more palatable if "public corporation" is substituted for "government".

We can argue about whether governments function well, whether they provide goods and services that their citizens actually want or need.

Re:Government roads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567601)

No, in a libertarian utopia there are no government roads. Most towns are connected bit dirt trails best run by horseback, and what roads exist are private toll roads, forcing people top stop every few miles to pay the toll. Just like it was with the original Pennsylvania Turnpike.

Re:Government roads (1)

Waffle Iron (339739) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567559)

Look at what typically happens when cities decide to give ... I mean sell off ... their parking garages to private businesses: Parking prices skyrocket because of price gouging by oligarchs.

So your approach to privatizing roads might actually be good: By making driving cost prohibitive for most people through the exorbitant tolls that will be charged to drive on their natural monopolies, the libertarian approach would do a great deal to help the environment by drastically reducing the overall usage of automobiles in this country.

Re:Government roads (5, Insightful)

Tenebrousedge (1226584) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567461)

Whenever I commute (as infrequently as possible), I cannot help but look and see the tens of thousands of dollars that each individual has chosen to spend on transportation, and imagine what spending a tenth of that money would have done for public transit.

It's a hidden tax which impacts the middle class most severely. It is a spectacular inefficiency, and in my opinion one of the strongest arguments against Libertarianism.

The other strong argument against Libertarianism is reality.

Re:Government roads (1)

Entrope (68843) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567547)

Most cars on the road today cost $20,000 new (+/- 50%). How much do you think a tenth of that would help public transit? It might be enough to employ a driver for a month -- but don't forget the mechanics and managers that you seldom see, or the depots where buses or trains are parked and serviced, or (pshaw) the capital costs of the vehicle.

Leasing a car -- which means you'd get a brand new one every three years or so -- typically runs under $300/month. Even if one adds in fuel and maintenance, and compares the full cost of that to the unsubsidized per capita cost of public transit, almost all of the US works out to be cheaper for car than bus or train (or whatever else).

If your idea of reality is that public transit in America is more cost-effective than privately owned cars (even without addressing the convenience aspects), no wonder you don't understand libertarianism... or reality.

Re:Government roads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567653)

Enjoy your police state, shithead.

Re:Government roads (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567467)

Extreme libertarians are indistinguishable from anarchists, but fortunately there really aren't too many of them. It is a bit of a strawman to center the argument around such a small (if vocal) group. I rate myself as a much more common moderate libertarian who recognizes there is a valid role for government in the types of areas you describe. The government has a role in clear areas of market externalities or "prisoner's dilemma" situations where it can clearly be shown that market forces will result in solutions that are generally undesirable to everyone (or almost everyone). I also believe (and easily seen everyday) that the government tends to expand rapidly outside the the boundaries of what it "should do" into areas of what it "can do". This requires periodic pushing too far in the opposite direction. Do not assume the desire by some for too little government is irrational. It is merely a calculated correction against too much government.

Re:Government roads (1)

lightknight (213164) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567509)

And yet surprisingly, natural monopolies are not as common as one might believe. I for one love the trade-offs that some municipalities engage in, as they are willing to offer any number of rights (including being the sole servicer of a region) in return for acquiring said service.

Re:Government roads (0)

drjzzz (150299) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567357)

To moderate the post as "Flamebait", which it is at the time I post this reply, is pitiful.

I am sympathetic to the idea (honestly) but the article you link to does not make a good argument: it is tendentious, rhetorically flat (IMHO), and ridiculously outdated (e.g., how many readers upon reading "Dr. Spock" would think of the pediatrician instead of the Star Trek character?). It's good for "preaching to the choir" but please find something more persuasive for new prospective converts.

Re:Government roads (1)

darjen (879890) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567513)

Yes, I admit that some of the literary references in the article are outdated, but the arguments presented therein are just as relevant today as 30 years ago. As to whether it is tendentious or rhetorically flat, well, that is a matter of opinion.

on the other hand (4, Insightful)

buddyglass (925859) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567179)

Most people, when asked to choose between "has the probability of saving a few lives" and "will definitely shave five minutes off my commute" will opt for the latter in a landslide. That's why we get new roads.

Re:on the other hand (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567249)

Uh, no. The summary just explained that politicians choose new projects specifically in order to benefit themselves, rather than the people who they supposedly represent. And it certainly does seem to be that way. Remember the famous "bridge to nowhere"?

The average citizen has no idea these new roads (among other pork barrel projects) are being buit until they see the bulldozers. It would take 40 hours a week just to keep up with them.

Re:on the other hand (3, Insightful)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567275)

Remember the famous "bridge to nowhere"?

You mean the same "Bridge to Nowhere" that Palin was a supporter of when running for Governor in 2006 but then rewrote history when a VP candidate to claim that she was against Congress earmarking the money? And actually that very same bridge was very popular within Alaska of the citizens. So other than Palin using it is a political stunt during her VP run, it doesn't actually fit into what you were claiming.

Re:on the other hand (4, Informative)

schwit1 (797399) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567361)

Both Senator Joe Biden and Senator Barack Obama voted to kill a Senate amendment that would have diverted federal funding for the bridge to repair a Louisiana span badly damaged by Hurricane Katrina. And both voted for the final transportation bill that included the $223 million earmark for the Bridge to nowhere.

http://www.cnn.com/2008/POLITICS/09/23/biden.earmarks/index.html [cnn.com]

Re:on the other hand (2)

HarrySquatter (1698416) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567557)

Good for them? How does that have any relevance to the fact that the "Bridge to Nowhere" was popular among Alaskan citizens which is why Palin was a major supporter until she rewrote history when running for VP 2 years later? Oh right, you probably thought incorrectly that I was an Obama supporter or had to interject an inane "but the other side is just as bad!!!" comment.

Re:on the other hand (2)

buddyglass (925859) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567279)

politicians choose new projects specifically in order to benefit themselves, rather than the people who they supposedly represent

This doesn't contradict what I wrote. When a voter hears "building a new road" they assume it will benefit someone, somewhere. If it's being built in their general geographic area then they assume they'll derive some benefit from it, even if only marginally. The fact remains: people seem to care more about roads being efficient (i.e. getting them where they need to go as quickly as possible) than they do roads being as safe as possible.

Re:on the other hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567395)

"Most people" people have essentially no say in how tax money is spent. Politicians lobbied by corporations do. That's why 1/3 of fatal traffic accidents are in major part caused by poor road conditions.

Different government levels hinder smart growth (4, Interesting)

stomv (80392) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567187)

Zoning determines "how much" house you can build on a property. Single family only? Up to 2-3 family? Apartment, 3 stories or fewer? Larger? Parking requirements? All of that is determined at the local level in most United States states. Highway money is typically spent by the states. They decide which projects get funding, etc. Additionally, most new highway projects aren't long distance projects -- they're circular ring roads or spokes into cities. The funding for the highway infrastructure is nearly all federal. The US Congress decides how much money to spend on highways.

As a result, there is very little coordination, and we end up with sprawl because of it.

Making matters worse, high speed rail is clearly state-to-state infrastructure in most cases (San Fran to L.A. notwithstanding). However, the rail infrastructure isn't federal -- it's state. That means if you want to improve a rail corridor along five states, you need five sets of funding, five sets of state decision making, etc. That's one federal gov't, five state gov'ts, and dozens of local gov'ts all getting in each others way.

Building new roads is easier. Costs more, wastes more, but there are fewer barriers -- fewer abutters adjacent the road to complain, less pain caused by orange cones and lane reduction during construction, etc.

For better or for worse, our very government structure is designed in such a way that makes road repair/expansion far more difficult and painful on both politicians and constituents.

Re:Different government levels hinder smart growth (1)

garcia (6573) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567303)

As a result, there is very little coordination, and we end up with sprawl because of it.

No, we end up with sprawl because living the American dream includes a home with a yard and not high density housing. And even when planners are forced to create HDH to reduce or slow sprawl, Americans would rather continue to spread out to get their piece of the dream than live in a 'Pass the Sugar' neighborhood or HDH communities.

The biggest problem with all of this is that instead of building transit infrastructure which makes sense, we try to retrofit half-broken models into areas where it will not work. BRT, supposedly LRT on rubber (we heard this in the 1950s - 1970s; oh how history repeats itself), was going to be the savior to the communities here South of Mpls/StP. What we ended up with are widened roads, a lot of construction, and the eventuality that express buses taking 35 minutes to get downtown will be eliminated so we can take up to 1.5 hours to do the same trip on BRT (they claim this won't happen but after spending 100+ million on the project, they will want it to be used and it won't be until they force it to be).

There are so many competing interests and opinions in our country that stating simply that 'building new roads is easier' is not entirely true. It sucks but we get to deal with it.

Yay for progress.

Re:Different government levels hinder smart growth (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567507)

While your argument was true at one point, you should read about the ongoing resettling of urban America. People who could not possible have a Slashdot ID as low as yours are moving back into cities in droves, to live in small homes and in condos where an elevator represents most of their ride home. I'm not saying this should or will ever replace the goal of some subset of the populate to live in a KB Home (tm) with a ChemLawn (tm), but it's a choice for anyone who wants to stop complaining about the road network.

Tina Turner said it best... (1, Offtopic)

sidragon.net (1238654) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567199)

We don't need another highway!
We already have a way home.
All we want are roads without:
The thunder holes.

Roads killing communities (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567211)

An interesting study shows how the cross-bronx expressway was almost instrumental in destroying the vibrant pre-war south bronx neighborhoods. Point being that they divide and destroy communities.

The problem is that the government made a huge commitment to interstate roads after the war (ww2) and basically put them everywhere without regard for communities. This was a failed government policy driven by lobbyists from oil companies/auto makers and misguided politicians who wanted to bring the autobahn stateside.

But if you look around the world you will see governments and communities thriving based upon public transport and planning that is not all automobile based. So the answer would be to vote in politicians that realize this and work towards more sustainable transport and planning.

Now to reform the wretched election laws in this country of ours....

Building Is Cheap, Repairs Are Expensive (4, Insightful)

rsmith-mac (639075) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567217)

Despite the rambling, the TFA made it's only salient point with the following:

there's less need to clog up existing lanes with orange cones and repair crews.

Compared to repairing existing roads, new road construction is the cheaper option, even with the costs of additional steps such as planning and grading. Repairs are incredibly expensive and inconvenient for exactly the above reason; it's much harder, much more dangerous, and much slower work to repair a surface in active use, and in the meantime some fraction of that infrastructure is put out of use. When you do need to make significant repairs, what you end up with is Carmageddon [laweekly.com], which users can't put up with for long periods of time.

Simply put, many of these major roads are too important and too busy to take out of commission for any period of time for repairs. Your best option quite often comes down to building a parallel track, at which point the original track becomes free for repairs (or more historically, decommissioning).

Re:Building Is Cheap, Repairs Are Expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567281)

While I largely agree with you, the article turned out to be completely wrong. It went just as easily as last year. Another case of media overhyping, perhaps?

Re:Building Is Cheap, Repairs Are Expensive (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567607)

What you say makes a lot of sense. Building new things are always easier than fixing old things. Or so it seems if you don't account for all of the costs. The cost of decay. Of neglect. Repairs might be difficult, but you can't just put them off *forever*. Eventually, one way or another, something will need to be done about the bridge that's going to fall down, or the road that will become impassable, or the sewage system that is overloaded, or the electrical distribution system - even if it involves wiping out entire communities and razing the whole mess to the ground. You can't sweep this stuff under the rug forever.

That's why we need federally sponsored efforts to reduce our dependence on automobiles for transportation, by providing incentives to live and work in denser walkable/bikable cities. We /can/ have a higher quality of life - but not if, in the aggregate, all us smart people do stupid things. I don't know any individuals who bought their home on the outer edge of a city because they though "gee, I would really wish we had a lot more roads and bridges blanketing the landscape." When you see families living on the edge of urban sprawl with two cars, usually massive cars, driving many tens and sometimes even hundreds of miles almost daily to truck kids around, buy groceries, and so on it's impossible to think there can't be a better way. How much gasoline do we consume just so kids can play soccer? Does your quality of life and your kid's happiness and future welfare truly depend on little SuzyQ's whatever team competing against towns 50 miles away almost every weekend?! It's just nuts. We need to live more locally.

This is a very good example of the importance of government. We have sprawl because at the micro level, that's the most affordable solution for most people. You are correct, at a local level, new is always cheaper. But not in the aggregate. Your brand new suburban home directly contributes to someone else's urban decay. That's why advocates of extreme privatization of all human endeavor are so wrong. Some things must be done collectively if they are to be done correctly or if they are to be done at all.

But making cities denser requires massive infrastructure upgrades that no individual or private enterprise could possibly undertake - e.g. Boston's big dig. Hugely expensive, many considered it a boondoggle, but now that it is complete, the city has been completely transformed. Again. You see, it has been only one in a long series of major urban renewal projects in that city that over the years has included reclaiming massive amounts of land from swamps, razing/rebuilding huge tracts of the city plagued by urban decay, and so on. These projects have all encouraged private investment in urban homes and businesses. Consequently, Boston is one of the most livable cities in the country - with no car. I know, I lived there for 15 years or so that way, and it was great.

double-deck (1)

noshellswill (598066) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567221)

True: Double-decking 6-lane freeways encircling Neolith Bantu-infested city ghettos would do wonders for the safety of productive, law-abiding Americans. Obama.nation hit-that-nail square.

WHY vs WHERE (2)

XB-70 (812342) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567227)

Don't get me wrong here, I'm FOR driving and I'm FOR roads. The simple concept of a road is to shorten the travel distance between two points. The real issues at stake here are two-fold:

1. We have a population that is growing and yet, we do no demographic projections or analysis prior to building roads. We just build them because the existing ones get full and the voters complain.

2. We have urban planners and city fathers who let developers run the show. As a result, in most cities, you have to drive two miles to buy a quart of milk.

No one is tackling the crazy innefficiencies of WHY we travel as opposed to WHERE we travel. Do this and we'd have less, yet better roads.

Re:WHY vs WHERE (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567523)

I can now walk to a major grocery store to get my milk. It tooks years of waiting for our finances to be in the right place, and the right opportunity in the market, but that's because I wasn't willing to live in an apartment for 10 years before hand. If you're okay with that (and many people are), there are new condo projects flying up around here to give you a choice where an elevator gets you most of the way to that quart of milk.

Americans are great. (1)

outsider007 (115534) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567235)

We love you, America, You make great movies, wonderful music videos. I hope America cures cancer so we can fill the world with more of the most carbon emitting lifeforms on the planet. Seriously, America, let's keep you guys around until we all choke to death. We really do care about you because you're the best.
Sincerely,
The rest of the world.

PennDOT's Solution is Building Circles Instead (2)

Ron Bennett (14590) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567259)

Rt 222 in Pennsylvania between Reading and Allentown is a highly traveled road that's mostly all two lanes (one lane each way) with traffic lights and much cross traffic.

PennDOT's solution is building circles at some of the intersections instead of upgrading it into a wider highway. Circles may help with flow, though that's debatable when one throws lots of big rigs into the mix, but doesn't solve the volume problem - two lanes carries a lot less vehicles than a four lane, limited access highway.

Among the main reasons for highways being needed, seemingly, most everywhere is the lack of planning. Though many states are now encouraging regional zoning; communities need to look beyond their borders when approving new construction.

Much of the challenge in building new highways is the lack of money combined with excess regulation that often greatly inflates the costs. For example, it took 40 years to expand Rt 222 between Reading, Pa to the Lancaster County line roughly 7 or so miles away - and that was even in despite of most all the land needed for it already being condemned decades before - so that wasn't the hold up. It was strictly environmental combined with lack of funds.

A similar issue occurred with the Blue Route near Philadelphia - another road that was started in the 1960s and then stopped for lack of funds, then held up by environmentalists until it was finally completed (though not as designed, which has caused problems ever since - 3 lanes merging into 2 at a very busy section) around 1990.

Rambling on, but in a nutshell, reducing the standard of living, which many environmentalists seem to advocate, isn't the answer. New and/or improved highways in many places *are* needed.

Re:PennDOT's Solution is Building Circles Instead (1)

tomhath (637240) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567491)

It was strictly environmental...

Nah. Environmental lawsuits are almost always thinly disguised NIMBY. Everyone wanted the Blue Route except the people who would have to see it out their kitchen window.

Re:PennDOT's Solution is Building Circles Instead (1)

twrake (168507) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567543)

Thinking in Circles is more to the point.

This timely article http://www.poconorecord.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20121006/NEWS/210060324 [poconorecord.com] contains the kernel of why highway funding will never be solved. We are going to name the project after the ex-representative who advocated the project. The study for this project was limited in scope because PennDot knows that any area studies in this region will show problems it needs to correct, with dollars it does not have. County planning is deficient in picking up the slack in the admissions in the State of Comprehensive Plan done in 2002 to review a 2020 plan,

Since politicians make plans and do not follow or fund them the political class is clearly at fault.

But they can agree to name the project after one of their own, so typical of our elected officials.

This is why politicians shouldn't be in charge (5, Insightful)

Grayhand (2610049) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567261)

Neil Degrasse Tyson said one of the most profound things I've ever heard. He said growing up he thought Congress was made up of Doctors, engineers and scientists. He was shocked to find out who was actually running the country. The point is how can a politician make a judgement call on an engineering project? How can a Congressman restructure Medicare when they don't know anything about medicine? What about the environment or NASA? The argument would be we invite in experts and have studies done. The truth is they invite in lobbyist for advice who are mostly retired politicians. They don't do reports on every project considered and most Congressional studies are biased and they lack the education to know the difference. The whole mess starts to make sense when you realize the country is being run by a bunch of non professionals. How many actual economist or even accounts are in Congress and they handle all the money! Do you know the most common profession Congressmen come out of? The law as in lawyers. Congress should be made up of an even mix from all major disciplines. We need experts running the country not people skilled in cutting deals!

Re:This is why politicians shouldn't be in charge (5, Insightful)

Grave (8234) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567347)

That's actually what the founding fathers had envisioned. They believed nobody would want to be in politics for long, so they never envisioned career politicians. While many of them were lawyers, there were also judges, farmers, and scientists there.

At this point, the idea of a doctor taking a few years off from their practice, a scientist taking a break from research, or a farmer leaving their farm to go spend a few years in DC is very foreign to us. In most cases, they would have a very hard time returning to their occupation due to the toll that is taken by that much time away.

That said, I think these sort of people are way more skilled in cutting deals than the typical crop of politicians. As Jon Stewart tried to point out with his "Rally to Restore Sanity" a couple years ago, the average person has to work with people they don't like, and come to agreements with those people, on a daily basis. Yet Congress can't seem to do the same.

Re:This is why politicians shouldn't be in charge (1)

Pionar (620916) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567453)

Well, and don't forget that it started out as a part-time congress as well.

Re:This is why politicians shouldn't be in charge (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567565)

Do we really need a full time congress? The only reasons that they're full time is because the federal government has their fingers in too many pies and because the American public is too dumb to understand that spending time on the job doesn't mean that you're doing something productive. We have so much movement in government that we have no real way of understanding how these changes are working out in the real world. It's this kind of dickering that leads to waste. Just look at NASA's dick being pulled in a different direction every administration and you'll understand what I'm talking about.

Re:This is why politicians shouldn't be in charge (1)

garyoa1 (2067072) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567595)

Yeah it was part time until it started to pay well. Then those with no skills whatsoever noticed and said... "hmmm... any idiot can do that. I'm in!"

Re:This is why politicians shouldn't be in charge (2)

Kjella (173770) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567635)

The whole mess starts to make sense when you realize the country is being run by a bunch of non professionals. How many actual economist or even accounts are in Congress and they handle all the money! Do you know the most common profession Congressmen come out of? The law as in lawyers.

Congress is the legislative branch of the government, they make laws. Lawyers are professionals in the field of law. What else should they be experts in? If a Congressman was an expert in medicine, what should he do when the issue is transportation or defense or criminal law or whatever else - abstain 95% of the time? If they're not getting good input on what laws are needed, then that's the problem not expecting them to be masters in whatever field is up for debate. Being an extremely skilled doctor doesn't actually mean you're qualified to organize a health care system either, there's a completely different set of skills needed to organize the treatment of patients than knowing how to personally diagnose and treat a single patient.

As for accountants, they're excellent at keeping track of your money but they're not the people who make investment decisions. They haven't got a clue what medical value something has until you convert that into dollars. Now put a doctor, an accountant and hopefully a hospital manager in the same room then you can start making some progress. No matter how you twist it you're probably going to need a multi-disciplinary team to work out good solutions and if it has to be passed up to a single person then the common denominator in all the things that are passed to Congress is that they're about the law. Besides careful what you wish for, before you have experts on intellectual property law making all the decisions on intellectual property law and ex-DEA officers making drug laws. It's not always expertise that is called for.

Merely symptomatic (5, Insightful)

argStyopa (232550) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567263)

It's symptomatic of our culture which is much more about "buying new" then "repairing old". This comes somewhat, I admit, out of economic reality: for most of our consumer goods it really is cheaper to replace than renew.
But the approach holds through larger purchases as well - homes and cars, for example. Few people have the skills or interest to fix them up to 'like new' condition, when it's easier (especially now in terms of housing) to get a brand new one dirt-cheap.
I live in a 100+ year old home, and it has its charms, certainly, but I'm well aware that (given my lack of construction skills/desire) it would have made more sense to just buy a new home instead. (Thank god my father in law is unbelievably skilled in construction, and that he loves his daughter apparently without limits.)
To the point, though, this is the accommodation (if not a driver) of urban sprawl. I live in the Twin Cities and if you drive around the perimeter you STILL see waves of new home construction - where are all these people coming from? Is this just urban flight?

It's one of the reasons I try to patronizing Dunn Brothers coffee as much as I can; I don't know if it's corporate policy, but around here they've deliberately placed their stores in really old buildings and paid the (high) cost to refurbish and bring them up to code, instead of grabbing a slot in the shiny new strip mall a half-mile down the road. In Eden Prairie, they even saved an historical brick home that the local preservationists couldn't afford to maintain/hold, turning it into really a terrific coffeeshop.

The problem is with us, not just the government. (1)

hilltaker7 (2718495) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567277)

The current situation is due to our current political situation which is in turn due to our current social situation. New highway equals progress equals votes. Repairing existing heavily used infrastructure equals pain in the rear equals far less votes (possibly even negative votes as seen in Denver's T-Rex project [called the "T-wrecks" project by the natives]). Our society has become very stuck on instant gratification (which road repair will never be) and NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard) thinking. Repairs cause inconvenience in the short term, and too many American voters are unwilling to deal with even short term inconvenience. So, many of these needed repairs get ignored until we get one of those few politicians who do not care about reelection and get it done. Sorry for my rambling, it is early and I haven't had my tea. The short of it is; until we as a people start realizing that short term inconvenience for long term progress is necessary and good, and start voting for politicians that are willing to take the hit to do their job right, this unfortunate trend will continue.

Seattle shows why you need new roads (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567301)

The extreme leftists in the Seattle area have hated cars for at least 25 years and have done everything they can to stop the building of new roads resulting in horrible commute-time traffic.

I have a much better idea. Get rid of the government + union-based corruption that exists in most of the country which gouges the taxpayer by skyrocketing the price of road construction and maintenance and all of a sudden you'll have all the money you need for both new road construction and maintenance of existing roads.

It may be OT on a thread about the Interstate... (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567307)

On a thread about the Interstate system this may be offtopic, but if the US wants to spend some money on road infrastructure upgrades then I think point one on the ToDo list should be many more roundabouts.

I drove a couple of thousand miles around the northeastern US this summer (I know, practically 'nipping out for a paper and some milk' in terms of distance for an American) and I really missed roundabouts. I used two the whole time I was there - one in Columbus OH and the other in NYC in Manhattan somewhere and it was like coming home. They're so much more efficient for keeping the traffic moving.

Re:It may be OT on a thread about the Interstate.. (1)

Ron Bennett (14590) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567397)

Circles, roundabouts, or whatever term is in vogue these days can be worthwhile, but aren't a cure all - they may increase capacity a little, but ultimately, the best way to increase capacity is adding more lanes / converting into a limited access highway.

With that said, Pennsylvania PennDOT agrees with your sentiments - they're on a "roundabout" building spree with many in the pipeline, including locations where they are not appropriate (ie. Rt 222 between Reading and Allentown) - that will likely result in a public backlash with many being ripped out in 20 years.

That's already happened in New Jersey with many ripped out. Though, ironically, adding them in other locations - NJ DOT planners don't seem to know what to do.

Many people in the U.S. hate "circles" (I know there are different terms depending on configuration and approach rules, but anyways I call them all circles) ... and it's not just because Americans are ignorant or whatever, there are some legitimate gripes with circles, one of which being they don't work well for multi-lane roads coming together with equally high levels of traffic and/or traffic that consists of many large full-size tractor-trailers and heavy, possibly even over-loaded, dump trucks.

Re:It may be OT on a thread about the Interstate.. (1)

jo_ham (604554) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567465)

I think it's entirely down to cultural issues, since we have many roundabouts that have heavy flow, multi lane traffic coming together also with large tractor trailers and they work extremely well. I see no reason why the sorts of "circles" we have here couldn't work in the US, other than people simply being unaccustomed to using them.

Some roundabouts here have 4 lanes on them, and 5 or more exits, although more typical is a 3 lane roundabout. Just get into the correct lane and follow the paint and everything keeps moving. Some of our busiest ones also feature traffic lights to allow lower priority roads to be able to get into the flow too - they're always on a short cycle to create enforced gaps of a few seconds which is all you need.

Some of our largest roundabouts are right off major highways (and along the routes of A roads, which would be the equivalent of a two lane state route) and they are much more effective than using traffic lights for crossing streets, even when that crossing street is of equal size and traffic flow.

Re:It may be OT on a thread about the Interstate.. (1)

SydShamino (547793) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567537)

Traffic circles cause a lot of accidents in the U.S. because (you pick, based on your biases) A) Americans aren't used to them, or B) Americans aren't bright enough to understand them.

Several around here have been taken out recently and replaced with stoplights for safety reasons.

Having This Issue in SC (1)

Rie Beam (632299) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567311)

We have a situation relevant to this here in South Carolina.

Currently, Myrtle Beach is in the process of purchasing and developing right-of-way for a freeway connection to I95. As it stands, there are zero actual freeway connections to the town; we do have freeways but they're all local spurs and not connected to the rest of the system and, as such, are still signed as local roads. The primary connection into town is U.S. 501, which generally becomes extremely congested during the summer tourist season here, as the road that, at its greatest width, is two lanes each way handles an influx of traffic from the entire Southeast.

The problem is that the freeway in question is basically being entirely developed on top of wetlands. At least two rivers are being crossed along with over fifty miles of swamp. This has led to a little bit of local opposition but, truth be told, it's something that the area does desperately need. The issue could be solved by upgrading and expanding the prior-mentioned U.S. 501 (which would require a massive right-of-way buy, including a lot of imminent domain issues as the road has plenty of houses bordering it) or by finishing another connection to Wilmington (only 60 miles up the road, but in North Carolina, which apparently has no desire to fund a road which would draw tourists away from the state). As neither option has political support, it's beginning to look like Mother Nature is about to take another one for the team here in SC.

http://www.i73insc.com/ [i73insc.com]

Of course what we need (4, Insightful)

adewolf (524919) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567329)

Is more public transport. The automobile and fossil fuels are a dead end. We (The USA) need to start putting out infrstructure dollars in repairing existing infrastructure as well as building out rail/light rail infrastructure. Commercial air travel has become less and less customer oriented and will eventually be for rich people only, on the airlines schedule.

Re:Of course what we need (1)

tomhath (637240) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567439)

Rail/light transit to where? Mass transportation only makes sense when you're moving thousands of workers to and from their jobs. We need to consider if there's a need to move so many people back and forth within a densely populated area every day. Nobody is building large factories close to cities and office workers are better off telecommuting at least a few days a week.

The problem with building new stuff (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567375)

Is that it needs to be maintained. Ten years from now we assume we'll have the money to repave that highway.

Or build a new town hall, and fifty years from now it'll need to be refurbed, and all the maintenance along the way.

We raise the money to build, and then foist the maintenance off on future generations.

Instead we ought to raise enough money to both build it and set up a trust to maintain it and replace it when it has fully depreciated.

Simple... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567383)

It looks politically more flashy to open those new shiny projects than slapping pain on that same old wall.

Populism uber alles...

Significant factor (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567423)

I always find claims like "poor road conditions are a "significant factor" in one-third of all fatal crashes" highly questionable. Combined with 47%, alcohol related 56% speed related, 27% undocumented alien related, 30% texing and driving and 31% teen driver related, there must be a lot of fatal crashes caused by drunk, illegal alien speeders on bad highways while texting and driving.

It will never get better. (1, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567541)

We need more light rail for public transportation. Instead we rip up the train tracks and turn them into bike trails. Even small cities like the ultra tiny one I work in, only 550,000 people, can use light rail to connect the miniscule 100,000 people communities that are 30-50 miles away to it. wo raillines side by side to allow a loop of two trains would give you a MAJOR difference. But no, let's support the Auto industry by building roads that ned to be repaired every year.

The Rest of the Story (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567551)

If any of you were wondering why this suddenly came up out of nowhere, there is a political reason.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQWF0aNq2p4
A speech that Obama made 4 years ago recently surfaced and in it he says we don't need more roads to the suburbs. Roads to the suburbs are a racist thing to make it easier for the whtile man to come to the city and take the black man's job. He said it isn't fair to build these roads to let the white people live in their nice neighborhoods while taking the jobs from the poor blacks in the inner city. And, yes, Obama did make the claim that only whites have nice houses and roads to the suburbs are racists. This is just a covering story so when the rest of you hear his speech you have been properly "educated" so their spin will be more effective. This story is nothing by blatent DNC spin.

That is also the reason for the last couple years you have seen so many "Its actually better to rent than buy a house" Because the DNC has so completely destroyed the economy that the average middle class person can no longer afford or get a loan to buy a house. These storys are just to make them think they are making the smart decision instead of being mad at the government that had removed a choice from them from horrible economic policy.

Sorry, there is no validity to these stories. They are just attempts to cover up complete failures of federal policy and to make you cheer failure while not realising you have been brain washed.

Pure Social Engineering (1)

onyxruby (118189) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567553)

What complete and utter nonsense. Congestion is the number source of poor fuel economy by far. It is such a big deal that every car sold in the US (and most other countries) comes with two different fuel economy numbers - Highway and City. For the overwhelming majority of cars in existence they get better fuel economy at highway speeds instead of city speeds. This holds equally true for tail pipe emissions / pollution / carbon output.

Congestion also is a leading contributor to poor health for a couple of really big reasons. First when cars are moving in congested roads they are polluting a lot more than highway roads. In aggregate this causes significantly more pollution (traffic circles which force people to slow down have to carefully select their flowers and fauna so that the additional pollution doesn't kill them).

The second problem is that when people are wasting time in traffic jams they are physically inactive and that is bad for your bottom line. When your spending 1-2 hours each direction getting to and from work, you simply feel too exhausted to go to the health club. Obesity is a public health epidemic and this is a significant contributing factor to it.

The problems continue at a very real level beyond simply pollution, fuel and public health problems. Stop and go traffic is very hard on cars with excess wear and tear and the figure (which I don't have time to track down right now) is very high in the billions of dollars per year. Maintenance issues cause cars to also receive poorer fuel economy earlier than they otherwise would.

When people are forced to live closer together you increase crime by increasing the surface area for criminals to exploit (more people = more opportunities). Higher population densities also decrease a lot of opportunities to participate in outdoors activities for kids which is reflected in healthier kids in the suburbs than inner cities.

The bottom line is that decreasing the funding for new roads has nothing to do with traffic congestion, pollution, or the public good. It has everything to do with trying to dictate the lifestyle that people live and this report is nothing more than pure social engineering.

Federal spending doesn't get cost-benefit analysis (1)

Nova Express (100383) | about a year and a half ago | (#41567571)

"Federal highway spending doesn't get subjected to strict cost-benefit analysis"

You can take out the word "highway" and the statement remains true. Or rather, no cost-benefit analysis exists for the taxpayer. But every dollar spent benefits the permanent Washington insider class that rakes its profits off of an ever-expanding government.

  Another true statement:

"Federal regulation doesn't get subjected to strict cost-benefit analysis."

And for the same reason.

How about population decrease? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year and a half ago | (#41567575)

Wouldn't it be cheaper to provide free vasectomies and tubal ligations? Less people means less resources needed.

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