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Old 05-03-2014, 06:02 PM   #15
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Yes, in this way, the government gets the public to pay twice for the road, once with gas tax and a second time with tolls. The toll funds could then be a wonderful slush fund for spending to make government even larger. If you like that idea, you know what political party to vote for.
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:06 PM   #16
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Yes, in this way, the government gets the public to pay twice for the road, once with gas tax and a second time with tolls. The toll funds could then be a wonderful slush fund for spending to make government even larger. If you like that idea, you know what political party to vote for.
Gas taxes AREN'T COVERING THE COST OF REPAIRS!

They need to double or quadruple the federal gas tax to even come close. They are only taking in $28-30 billion a year, they need 3 times that much just to keep up with maintenance, that doesn't include any improvements or additional roads.

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Old 05-03-2014, 08:09 PM   #17
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Just updated my Garmin Navigator map to include Canada since we plan to travel there this year - while I was waiting for in to download and install I was playing around with the various features - one it had I didn't know was a Toll Road feature - you check it and it routes you around them.
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Old 05-03-2014, 08:27 PM   #18
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Yes, in this way, the government gets the public to pay twice for the road, once with gas tax and a second time with tolls. The toll funds could then be a wonderful slush fund for spending to make government even larger. If you like that idea, you know what political party to vote for.
That smaller government you want will mean closed roads when the bridges collapse, potholes are never filled, street lights going out, even worse air travel when the air traffic controllers are let go, worn out airports, fires not put out when the fire department is cut back, few weather reports (private services rely on government weather stations and statistics), starvation for millions, far less scientific research, more closed schools, and on and on. Actually we're getting some of that now.

The highway trust fund runs out of money sometime between early June and August. If money isn't found, the summer construction will be lost in whole or part, projects will go unfinished and a lot of constructions workers will lose their jobs. It always costs more to restart a project than to keep it going.

To make a deal, I suspect there may be a compromise to allow tolls on interstates. The public, who generally does not want tolls, will be ignored. A recent study shows the elite gets their way with pols far, far more often than the middle class. The tone is we can't afford to be great anymore. Big projects like Hoover Dam, the interstate system, going to the moon, and so on, are no longer done. We act mediocre and we are getting mediocre—or we are already there and just gliding along, fat and happy until enough people want to change this mess.

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Old 05-03-2014, 09:32 PM   #19
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Gene, you're describing Detroit!
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Old 05-04-2014, 07:51 AM   #20
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The federal gas tax was last increased in 1993, over 20 years ago. Inflation (labor and materials) has badly eroded it's purchasing power. Driving is a privalage, not a right. Those choosing to drive are obliged to pay their fair share. This isn't happening now, and roads are falling apart. The simplest and fastest solution is to raise the fuel tax.

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Old 05-04-2014, 10:23 AM   #21
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The federal gas tax was last increased in 1993, over 20 years ago. Inflation (labor and materials) has badly eroded it's purchasing power. Driving is a privalage, not a right. Those choosing to drive are obliged to pay their fair share. This isn't happening now, and roads are falling apart. The simplest and fastest solution is to raise the fuel tax.

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I wish solving the problem was that simple. First, the Highway Trust Fund, set up to pay for highway construction and repairs, has been raided by politicians with the funds being reallocated to mass transit. About $5 billion of the $40 billion the federal trust fund spends each year goes to mass transit. One way of providing more highway repair money would be to let the metropolitan areas benefiting from the transit funds pay for their own mass transit projects and put all of the proceeds of highway fuel taxes to work on maintaining highways. Higher user fees could be used to cover the cost of mass transit with the users of mass transit paying for the cost.

Second, many road projects are political in nature, not necessarily real improvements to the highway infrastructure. Some politicians have the pull to get extra lanes or new bridges added to roads in their district, whether or not they are truly needed. Other districts, with less political pull, are left suffering with tired patched roads. On top of this, road contracts have a long history of corruption with the government paying inflated costs for road work allocated to contractor friends of politicians and the contractors then skimming off millions for themselves, not to mention using inferior materials. There are also big union payoffs in the road construction business. Eliminate the corruption, and political interference, and you free up billions more of the money in the trust fund to do real road work without having to raise taxes or user fees.

Third, when the interstate system was built the agreement was the federal government would fund most of the cost, the states would own the roads, and the states would repair them. State fuel taxes are far from uniform. It is very possible states with low fuel taxes are underfunding repair and improvements while other states are doing a better job. Raising the federal gasoline tax does nothing to address the issue of the disparity in state funding of infrastructure repair. However, to the degree the federal funds are allocated to repair roads in the low gas tax states the federal government is encouraging states to continue underfunding infrastructure maintenance.

Fourth, interstate highways and bridges developed in the 1950's and 1960's were not designed to carry the amount of heavy long haul truck traffic the roads today are bearing. In the 50's and 60's most long haul freight was moved by rail, not trucks. If heavy truck traffic is responsible for much of the deterioration in road infrastructure, it may be the trucking industry is not paying its fair share of road maintenance. Certainly independent engineering studies could determine what types of vehicles are responsible road wear and the bean counters could determine if fuel taxes collected from trucking are paying for the full share of repair costs caused by trucking. If not, it may be the answer to funding highway repairs is to raise taxes or levy tolls on trucks so they bear their fair share of the repair costs.

Based on personal experience traveling around the country, many roads and bridges in the interstate system require significant repairs and upgrading which suggests the existing system and processes for funding infrastructure repairs requires improvement. Unfortunately, the proposals I've seen to simply levy tolls or raise fuel taxes fail to address the issues of waste, corruption, underfunding of the state obligations, allocating repair costs fairly to the vehicles causing the deterioration, and shifting of highway funds to other purposes (i.e. mass transit). it would be good if politicians and bureaucrats would look at a complete reform of the system, addressing all of the issues, instead of just layering on additional taxes and fees while allowing inefficiencies and subsidies to continue.
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Old 05-04-2014, 10:30 AM   #22
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As I recall, the Gov'ment took in a record amount of tax dollars for the tax year 2013. Perhaps if our politicians spent this on what they are supposed to, instead of the usual vote buying schemes, the roads could get fixed. What happened to all the "shovel ready jobs" money that was sold as fixing infrastructure. Didn't do it. It is going to bankrupt city and county governments to bail them out of their pension mess.
The problem is not that we don't pay enough revenue, it is that we do not spend wisely.
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Old 05-04-2014, 11:07 AM   #23
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Airrus, living in Gainesville I am sure the city could be bankrupt in as little as five years because of the biomas plant and the need for Road construction as you may know. Without new taxes we are doomed and most of us will not vote for more in the county or city because we do not trust those in power. Jim
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Old 05-04-2014, 11:18 AM   #24
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Angry toll roads

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Airrus, living in Gainesville I am sure the city could be bankrupt in as little as five years because of the biomas plant and the need for Road construction as you may know. Without new taxes we are doomed and most of us will not vote for more in the county or city because we do not trust those in power. Jim
You are right about not trusting
those in power, a good example is Il. former governors in prison. Federal state and local politicians in prison still much corruption now. Money does not go where needed, more money is not answer to road problems, take graft out there would be enough to fix roads and other problems, state and federal.
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Old 05-04-2014, 11:25 AM   #25
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last week on i-95 just south of the CT border to NY i passed a road repair crew. the 'patcher' was tossing out shovels of asphalt patch into the holes at about 40 mph. about a third of the mix scattered along the highway and i figure another third went flying as vehicles hit it. they were also doing 2 lanes from the right hand lane. as mentioned, a lot of money is being wasted.
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Old 05-04-2014, 01:25 PM   #26
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Unfortunately there will always be found examples of waste and corruption. Those should be attacked for what they are, not be made into an excuse to fail to act. A well established and maintained road system is in the national interest. I don't mean just for defense but for commerce and mobility. Our ability to freely and affordability travel makes us stronger as a nation. For this reason I think the federal government should lead the states by example.

States can't lead as they are too parochial and competitive by design. Notice how low tax states like to mock high tax states, except under investment has consequences. According to the Wall Street Journal Texas is beginning to grapple with this problem as they recently decided to let portions of their road system return to gravel.

I also don't buy into the "just cut the fat and all will be okay" line of reasoning. The tally of needs far exceeds total budgets of most DOT's. Maybe tolls are the way to go, probably the same outcome as raising the gas tax, at least for states the toll.
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Old 05-04-2014, 01:36 PM   #27
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My fear is that increased tolls will become a deepened "honey pot" for the politicians. I'm sure that they will find other uses for increased toll revenues, other than road maintenance.

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Old 05-04-2014, 04:21 PM   #28
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I wish solving the problem was that simple. First, the Highway Trust Fund, set up to pay for highway construction and repairs, has been raided by politicians with the funds being reallocated to mass transit. About $5 billion of the $40 billion the federal trust fund spends each year goes to mass transit. One way of providing more highway repair money would be to let the metropolitan areas benefiting from the transit funds pay for their own mass transit projects and put all of the proceeds of highway fuel taxes to work on maintaining highways. Higher user fees could be used to cover the cost of mass transit with the users of mass transit paying for the cost.

Second, many road projects are political in nature, not necessarily real improvements to the highway infrastructure. Some politicians have the pull to get extra lanes or new bridges added to roads in their district, whether or not they are truly needed. Other districts, with less political pull, are left suffering with tired patched roads. On top of this, road contracts have a long history of corruption with the government paying inflated costs for road work allocated to contractor friends of politicians and the contractors then skimming off millions for themselves, not to mention using inferior materials. There are also big union payoffs in the road construction business. Eliminate the corruption, and political interference, and you free up billions more of the money in the trust fund to do real road work without having to raise taxes or user fees.

Third, when the interstate system was built the agreement was the federal government would fund most of the cost, the states would own the roads, and the states would repair them. State fuel taxes are far from uniform. It is very possible states with low fuel taxes are underfunding repair and improvements while other states are doing a better job. Raising the federal gasoline tax does nothing to address the issue of the disparity in state funding of infrastructure repair. However, to the degree the federal funds are allocated to repair roads in the low gas tax states the federal government is encouraging states to continue underfunding infrastructure maintenance.

Fourth, interstate highways and bridges developed in the 1950's and 1960's were not designed to carry the amount of heavy long haul truck traffic the roads today are bearing. In the 50's and 60's most long haul freight was moved by rail, not trucks. If heavy truck traffic is responsible for much of the deterioration in road infrastructure, it may be the trucking industry is not paying its fair share of road maintenance. Certainly independent engineering studies could determine what types of vehicles are responsible road wear and the bean counters could determine if fuel taxes collected from trucking are paying for the full share of repair costs caused by trucking. If not, it may be the answer to funding highway repairs is to raise taxes or levy tolls on trucks so they bear their fair share of the repair costs.

Based on personal experience traveling around the country, many roads and bridges in the interstate system require significant repairs and upgrading which suggests the existing system and processes for funding infrastructure repairs requires improvement. Unfortunately, the proposals I've seen to simply levy tolls or raise fuel taxes fail to address the issues of waste, corruption, underfunding of the state obligations, allocating repair costs fairly to the vehicles causing the deterioration, and shifting of highway funds to other purposes (i.e. mass transit). it would be good if politicians and bureaucrats would look at a complete reform of the system, addressing all of the issues, instead of just layering on additional taxes and fees while allowing inefficiencies and subsidies to continue.
highway systems funding is just like social security and medicare...well funded projects that are raided by bureaucrats with the revenue spent on everything but the intended purpose
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