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Old 02-24-2014, 02:36 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,252 posts, read 26,226,229 times
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Thoughts?

Are Roads and Highways Subsidized ?
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Old 02-24-2014, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,165 posts, read 29,655,359 times
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There are couple of problems with this article. The author comes to the conclusion that highways are completely paid for by user fees (in a rather in direct way).

When the "roads are subsidized" comment comes up, in response to "transit is subsidized," it means highways + local roads etc. Basically any road, ni any location, a vehicle travels. Whether it is a highway or a mainly local road. And most people agree that "user fees" do not adequately cover the code of local roads. And "user fees" do not adequately cover transit costs.

The problem lies with the concept of roads or transit as a greater public good. The people who are most likely to "complain" about the "road subsidies argument" are the same ones who say "nothing should be subsidized." Which is a loaded word, and denies the fact that local roads are not typically funded exclusively by user fees. It is generally funded by community fuss, at the state or local level that drivers and non drivers have to pay alike. You can't opt out of funding the general fund because you don't like what it is bing used for.
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Old 02-24-2014, 04:37 PM
 
Location: Crooklyn, New York
28,252 posts, read 26,226,229 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
When the "roads are subsidized" comment comes up, in response to "transit is subsidized," it means highways + local roads etc. Basically any road, ni any location, a vehicle travels. Whether it is a highway or a mainly local road. And most people agree that "user fees" do not adequately cover the code of local roads. And "user fees" do not adequately cover transit costs.
So what would it look like if all local roads had "user fees?" Would I pay a toll to drive only a few blocks to the grocery store? Would people living in suburban subdivisions--whose property taxes in part fund local roads--be forced to pay a toll when dropping their kids off at the school down the street? Moreover, would cyclists pay a user fee as well?
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Old 02-24-2014, 05:13 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,165 posts, read 29,655,359 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BajanYankee View Post
So what would it look like if all local roads had "user fees?" Would I pay a toll to drive only a few blocks to the grocery store? Would people living in suburban subdivisions--whose property taxes in part fund local roads--be forced to pay a toll when dropping their kids off at the school down the street? Moreover, would cyclists pay a user fee as well?
I don't know. I think local roads are a "greater public good" like transit, street signs, sidewalks, bike lanes and libraries. So everyone should contribute to upkeep, maintenance etc. Even if I don't use all of the city (or regional services) I should pay for them. I can't pick and choose to only pay for the ones I like.
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Old 02-24-2014, 05:35 PM
 
Location: North Beach, MD on the Chesapeake
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Many states now require bike lanes be incorporated when handing out grants (funded by the fuel tax) to localities requesting road funding

The Feds have been doing that for nearly 20 years.
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Old 02-24-2014, 05:59 PM
 
12,291 posts, read 15,187,836 times
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Gas taxes pay for about half. The rest is general revenues. In our State video gambling pays a large share. Do heavy gamblers drive more? Police patrols seldom pay their own way, despite the fact everyone complains about traffic tickets. I suppose you can argue the subsidies are worth it for economic development, just as mall owners subsidize their parking because it brings business.
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Old 02-24-2014, 06:09 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by North Beach Person View Post
Many states now require bike lanes be incorporated when handing out grants (funded by the fuel tax) to localities requesting road funding

The Feds have been doing that for nearly 20 years.
They do, and sometime that leads to some terribly planned bike infrastructure. Roads to nowhere if you will and disconnected bike networks.

And of course, there is also the idea of protected bike lanes.
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Old 02-24-2014, 07:22 PM
 
Location: Vallejo
14,061 posts, read 16,070,870 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jade408 View Post
There are couple of problems with this article. The author comes to the conclusion that highways are completely paid for by user fees (in a rather in direct way).

When the "roads are subsidized" comment comes up, in response to "transit is subsidized," it means highways + local roads etc. Basically any road, ni any location, a vehicle travels. Whether it is a highway or a mainly local road. And most people agree that "user fees" do not adequately cover the code of local roads. And "user fees" do not adequately cover transit costs.

The problem lies with the concept of roads or transit as a greater public good. The people who are most likely to "complain" about the "road subsidies argument" are the same ones who say "nothing should be subsidized." Which is a loaded word, and denies the fact that local roads are not typically funded exclusively by user fees. It is generally funded by community fuss, at the state or local level that drivers and non drivers have to pay alike. You can't opt out of funding the general fund because you don't like what it is bing used for.
Not always.

It often comes up in the light of people pretending that suburbs had some massive subsidy because highways linked them to cities, which as the article points out is false even today. While it's true that highways now are subsidized by non-user fees, even after adjusting for the siphoning off of gas tax funds to subsidize mass transit and pay down the deficit, that is a fairly recent development as they've failed to increase gas taxes to keep up with inflation.

For local roads transit it paid for mostly with local taxes, same as transit. Rural areas are really the ones that see a subsidy to roads from non-local sources. Then it's just up to the local jurisdiction and the voters to decide how much resources to allocate to transit versus roads versus public safety versus parks and so on.
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Old 02-24-2014, 07:50 PM
 
Location: Nescopeck, Penna. (birthplace)
12,351 posts, read 7,501,291 times
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It's not so much the highways themselves. but one particular category of user (large trucks) which appears to be getting a break.

Right now, the principal entrance to the I-park where I work has a section of chewed-up pavement the full 2-lane width of the road and about ten yards in length; all of this appeared within the past weak due to a thaw after nearly a month of constant sub freezing temperatures. And that road sees several hundred tractor-trailer rigs entering and leaving - every business day.

Most people who work around the highway system can explain the cause; the intermittent freeze-and-thaw of small amounts of water in cracks in the pavement, which breaks it up. Larger vehicles are more likely to cause the cracks which are the initial cause of the problem.

The use of road salt aggravates the issue. Parts of Canada actually don't use it, and advise motorists to exercise greater caution. But the public, and especially the younger, more casual driver, has been conditioned to expect "June-in-January" conditions.

Last week in my home community, a young woman lost two of her three daughters to a collision with a heavier vehicle, and so-called "black ice" is believed to be a major factor. The mature adult who's been driving, possibly for a living, for many years eventually learns -- instinctively -- not to slam on the brakes when on ice or "hydroplaning" on standing water, but it's not something that can be instilled in Driver's Ed in high school -- it has to be experienced and mastered, usually after one or two fender-benders.

And redesigning our distribution system around smaller highway vehicles, while it could be done, would be both expensive and time consuming. The railroads abandoned most "MM&P" (manufactured, miscellaneous and perishable) traffic back in the seventies, and what's left moves in freight cars of 80-100 ton capacity (the typical "18-wheeler" handles 30-40 tons).

And although Long Island, for example, has an extensive suburban rail system, running freight through the passenger tunnel under Manhattan, while no more risky with regard to hazardous materials, etc, could disrupt a key link in our infrastructure -- possibly for a long time. A very small number of freight cars are shipped to long Island, Brooklyn and Queens via the one remaining car-float operation (New York Cross Harbor Railway) or by a connection through the Bronx, but most high-value freight (in containers) goes to large "intermodal terminals" in North Jersey, and is trucked across the Hudson.

It's a hard, and expensive choice, one that has been evolving for nearly fifty years and, unlike most people familiar with the rail industry, I do believe that the concerns of an increasingly sensitized public, conditioned by today's "vulnerable" lifestyle, might demand a rollback; but while the costs won't be readily visible -- it won't come cheap.

Last edited by 2nd trick op; 02-24-2014 at 08:18 PM..
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Old 02-24-2014, 09:04 PM
 
Location: Oakland, CA
27,165 posts, read 29,655,359 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Malloric View Post
Not always.

It often comes up in the light of people pretending that suburbs had some massive subsidy because highways linked them to cities, which as the article points out is false even today. While it's true that highways now are subsidized by non-user fees, even after adjusting for the siphoning off of gas tax funds to subsidize mass transit and pay down the deficit, that is a fairly recent development as they've failed to increase gas taxes to keep up with inflation.

For local roads transit it paid for mostly with local taxes, same as transit. Rural areas are really the ones that see a subsidy to roads from non-local sources. Then it's just up to the local jurisdiction and the voters to decide how much resources to allocate to transit versus roads versus public safety versus parks and so on.
Suburban development was encouraged by our policies: highway expansion and the difficulty in getting funding for infill and adaptive reuse projects.
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