Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fewer Miles Driven; Less Money for Roads

You would not know it in Utah, but funds available for transportation are diminishing. I-15 from North Salt Lake to Layton and I-80 on the east side of Salt Lake City are major construction zones, nightmares for commuters. Beside the traffic snarls, the price of gasoline is giving us all a huge reason to avoid unnecessary trips.

Americans drove almost 10 billion fewer miles in May 2008 than in May 2007, according to Federal Highway Administration. In the FSWA press release:
"By driving less and using more fuel-efficient vehicles, Americans are showing us that the highways of tomorrow cannot be supported solely by the federal gas tax," Secretary Peters said. "We must embrace more sustainable funding sources for highways and bridges through more sustainable and effective ways such as congestion pricing and private activity bonds."
Ideally, the government bases its budget on forecasted tax receipts. And like most agencies, their wishes are greater than their means. There will be a large number of new road construction projects -- road widenings, new bridges, safer interchanges -- that will go to the back burner.

Hopefully, the federal government will do a better job at prioritizing the macro-budget. But don't count on it.

With Nancy Pilosi opining that global warming is priority number one as she single-handedly is trying to save the planet...
“I have always loved longitude,” she said before breaking into laughter. “I love latitude; it’s in the stars. But longitude, it’s about time. ... Time and clocks and all the rest of that have always been a fascination for me.”
...and George Bush admitting the deficit is out of control...
The White House predicted on Monday that the Bush administration would bequeath a record deficit of $482 billion to the next president -- a sobering turnabout in the country's fiscal condition from 2001 when President George W. Bush took office and inherited three consecutive years of budget surpluses.
...there is little reason to be optimistic about the state of an aging transportation system and the government's ability to do much about it.

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