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Monday, January 16, 2017

What's it going to take? Non Political

Posted Saturday, September 17, 2011, at 5:00 PM

I was reading an article today and it set me to wondering what is it going to take in order for this country to reinvest in its infrastructure, given that everyone wants safer roads and bridges, not to mention less congestion. We have already seen a major bridge collapse, not to mention whole towns cut off from outside contact due to failed roads. How many more lives and wasted productivity are we willing to put up with?

Let's take this state for example. Travel around and really pay attention to the roads and bridges. Up to snuff and safe? I know about GARVEE bonds that being issued to be paid for from future payments from the highway trust fund (yea right, it's broke), and we have a pay as you go system that is in our state Constitution.

Pay as you go is great if there are enough funds coming in every year to meet the needs for repair and needed expansion. Problem there aren't. People are driving less, and they are buying more fuel efficient cars, there for less revenue from the gas tax. Same problem exists for the federal highway fund.

People aren't going to stop buying fuel efficient cars when the economy improves, though they might drive more. That's still not enough to make up for the shortfall.

When a major road fails, or a bridge fails, not only may there be a loss of life, but to get it repaired or replaced now becomes a major expense because it wasn't planned for and there is not time for competitive bids. The free market with its charge as much as you think you can get away with takes over.

I understand everyone is hurting now, except the speculators in gas and diesel along with the big oil companies. The speculators are driving up the price of oil, gas and diesel. It doesn't take that much more to refine a gallon of gas or pump a barrel of oil. There isn't really a shortage of oil, unless it is manipulated by OPEC. Oil pumped here in this country doesn't have to be shipped by tanker, but yet we are paying the same price for that oil that is being charged for oil pumped overseas. I find it hard for anyone to explain that, short of just plain old greed.

Drilling for more oil and building more refineries might help some, but even with hardly any regulations, it takes years to build a refinery. Currently refineries are running at 90 to 95% capacity. The shortfall is imported, and the price is set by the speculators. If you don't know how the futures market functions, you may find it very interesting.

I am not advocating taking over any part of the oil industry, but there has to be an answer out there. Enough of that, back to the original question. How do we pay for the roads and bridges that are failing? Making every road a toll road is a possibility, except for residential streets. If you want to use it, you pay for it. That makes for a real nightmare. Increase the state fuel taxes? That would help some, except for those vehicles just passing through. Most wouldn't buy enough fuel here to cover the number of miles driven in our state to cover the miles driven on our roads. Almost any scenario you can come up with smells of a police state in one way or another. How much intrusion are we willing to put up with to ensure safe roads and bridges?

Would you personally be willing to pay a fee based on miles driven and the GVW of your vehicle? How would you deal with vehicles just passing through? How about vehicles delivering goods here and taking goods out of here?

I really don't want this to become a big discussion about how badly our governments handle our money. We already know that, so going on and on about that doesn't help.

Your thoughts are welcomed.


Here is a link to the article I read.


Showing comments in chronological order
[Show most recent comments first]

I read the article and your comments. I have several questions regarding existing funding and costs. Where is the money that we currently collect go? What is the priority of spending? Is it what is schedule (maybe that schedule was made years ago?)or what safety issues need to be address now? Or is there a mix? I can show you several new 84 lanes that really were not "necessary" in the Boise area. They were build for convenience. What we must have for safety should come first and what we would like to have should only come if the money is there to pay for it. Why is "road money" used to build bike lanes? If we think in terms of user tax I do not know of any bike lane that autos can drive on. Bikes are not licenced and have no fees that I know of. Bikes users should pay for bike paths, they use them, right? Cost per mile is another issue. I do not understand the high cost. Are the roads build to withstand high use? look at the resurface on 84 eastbound. the truck stop eastbound does not need resurfaced and all the truck go through the weigh station... I do not understand. Oh well, just more Q's but you made me think. thanks

-- Posted by bob8492 on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 7:04 PM

Bike lanes are a result of strings tied to federal grants like the stimulus funds plus a safety factor. I agree bikes should pay a registration fee.The standards for road construction have been upgraded so the roads can withstand the much heavier loads the trucks now carry. 40 tons vs 53 tons. There have been 2 major highway projects in the Boise area. The Meridian Rd to Franklin Rd project was paid for out of GARVEE bonds. That was a real need due to the massive amount traffic and the fact the road was falling apart due to outdated subsurface conditions. The project from Curtis/Overland to Broadway was the same thing. I know this for two reasons. One, I drive them both everyday, and two, one of the companies I used to work for was part of the pre-con before the project was started. The new construction is expected to last 40-50 years with minimal repairs. Hope that answers some of you questions.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 7:32 PM

AAAAAAAAAAAAA, amen, bazookaman, where do I sign?

I have been voting against incumbents for at least 25 years. That is not a new concept for me. They have all been that bad for at least that long. We are just at a point where we cannot take this nonsense anymore. We are at the end of our rope. It is not Rep vs Dem, it is about what is right and just and what is good for the USA. Until we have term limits... serve your country and fellow citizens then go home, force congress to live by the same rules as everyone else...no special health care or retirement, and spend less then or equal to what we take in we do not have a chance. History tells us that change happens by evolution or revolution... look around the world my friends, we are in this mix somewhere.

-- Posted by bob8492 on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 7:47 PM

Mike, I understand your frustrations. The roads in Idaho are Idahos responsibility and they are in terrible shape and those are the ones I'm talking about mainly. What you say is true when it comes to the funds being stolen from the federal trust fund. Even if they weren't being stolen, the amount provided in fuel taxes is not enough to cover the cost of repairs, improvements and new construction. Too many years of bigger and heavier vehicles and loads have taken their toll, not to mention the growth in population. We can address everything you mentioned and there still wont be enough money to address the years of neglect our roads and bridges have endured. I hope you noticed I stated that even with minimal regulations it still would take years to build new refineries.

I'm curious about your stand on the speculators who are causing the ordinary man to feel such pain at the pump.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 7:47 PM

Mike, I don't know about the lottery funds and where they go. I wasn't here when it was voted on. I do know that when California passed its lottery, as soon as money got tight, state spending to the schools was cut to the bare constitutional minimum which is a certain percentage of the overall budget, and the 33% from the lottery was included in that minimum. It's all a money game. Only three winners in the lottery, the government, the advertisers and the few winners.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 7:53 PM

bob, just ask zook where I stand. I'm there also.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 7:54 PM

Mike, I agree. Problem is that they are defended as free marketeers by the so called conservatives. Go figure. I say if we can't control them, then tax them to death for what they are doing to this country.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:01 PM

Who else Mike?

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:02 PM

The only problem there, is that for every dollar we send to Washington, we get back a buck 28.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:03 PM

And we are still short.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:04 PM

Mike, do you know how the futures markets operate in the U.S.A.?

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:05 PM

Roy, strings, grants, stimulus, federal govt. hmmm, non of these things make it right do they?

Not to argue, but we would probably differ on the definition of convenience. As has been mentioned about heavy loads on the roads, all the heavy trucks pass through the weigh stations (most anyway except prepass)why don't the weigh stations have ruts, etc. Are these roadways built different then the regular road? Glad we agree the bikes should pay some of their way in this world of user fees.

-- Posted by bob8492 on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:08 PM

Futures markets are run by private companies here in the states. Get your barf bag ready. For a few pennies on the dollar a person or company can tie up enormous quantities of oil slated for future delivery. This was intended to promote market stability. It has been perverted by the greed of the traders. When the oil is available for delivery, they own it even though they never paid for it in full and never took delivery. Now they can say, well I paid X amount and I want a 30% premium. They control it, you need it. You have to pay it, or no oil.

bob, the entries and exits are built to a much different standard than travel lanes, therefor the lack of ruts, etc. I don't know how much you have traveled through Ada and Canyon counties in the last 6 years or more. Where the road was widened was only 2 lanes in each direction, and even without an accident, the congestion was awful at rush hour. Take a lane away, and a 1/2 hour trip turned into 1 1/2 hrs.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:23 PM

1.28 returned for each dollar sent to washington. Then who are we stealing from? Boy, I would send them a few bucks if I could get 1.28 for every buck. But then again I would be stealing from someone too, right?

-- Posted by bob8492 on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:24 PM

Mike, bike lanes cost money to build and can't be used by cars. Who should pay for something they can't use?

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:25 PM

The 1.28 helps pay for medicaid, SNAP, education, etc.

Mike, great idea, but it interferes with inter-state commerce, and that's the feds thing. It's in the Constitution.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:29 PM

Good luck Mike.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:34 PM

Roy, thanks for the information. I think we are on the same side but if I understand your logic if we build that 4 or 6 lane road to 8 or 10 lanes we would only have a 15 minute commute. To me that is convenience. I worked in the Seattle area for a few years and you might not understand..... just the way it is... when you might go 5 or 10 miles in an hour. What is our priority? If we do NOT have the money do we choose safety or convenience? Are there bridges falling apart? If so the bridge is over something and public safety should come first. I have traveled 84 for several years.

-- Posted by bob8492 on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:35 PM

bob, I came from California, the San Francisco Bay Area, I know all about traffic jams. The 1/2 trip that was, is now more like 20 mins. most days.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:39 PM

FEDS...THEM... exactly who is that? Who are we talking about?

-- Posted by bob8492 on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:40 PM

Mike, I do traffic control, including flagging. There's nothing you can tell me about the drivers in Ada county.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:40 PM

bob, the federal government has jurisdiction over inter-state commerce. We were talking about toll roads for out of state vehicles only.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:42 PM

Mike, have I ever argued with you about that issue?

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:43 PM

Mike, I was talking about the commute from Caldwell, to Boise.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:46 PM

Traffic in the Bay Area is just about as bad as ever.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:46 PM

Just for clairification... Who is the "Federal govt"? We just need to say who that is so we are both on the same page.

-- Posted by bob8492 on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:47 PM

Mike, do remember how big San Jose was when you were growing up? It is now almost 1 million people!!

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:48 PM

bob, sadly it's those bozo's in D.C. who only care about getting re-elected and getting rich.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:50 PM

I gotta go but I like you guys. You seem to be okay even though I do not agree with everything... and I know my views are "out there" on some things...... but then again, I think some of your views are "out there" too.

-- Posted by bob8492 on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:50 PM

Have a good night bob.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:51 PM

alright, amen, etc,etc.

Federal govt. is Congress and we have a say in who we elect as our Rep. We need to control the part we CAN control and that is who we elect... Laws can be changed... which is obvious... To some people when you say Feds... they do not know who that is. Always clarify

-- Posted by bob8492 on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:55 PM

thanks, good night.

-- Posted by bob8492 on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 8:56 PM

Not bad Mike. Did you see what I said about San Jose?

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sat, Sep 17, 2011, at 9:05 PM

JYD, I did offer some solutions in the beginning, I was trying to see if there were any other solutions that people wouldn't revolt over. Any ideas on your part?

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Sun, Sep 18, 2011, at 5:58 PM


A few years ago, 60 Minutes did a piece on using old tires for road repair. It was an excellent piece, we would have saved billions on our roads and would have had a use for the old tires at the same time.

What stopped it? Contractors who wanted to use asphalt so that road repair would happen every few years.

I like your blogs. I don't know if I agree with everything, but you are very thoughtful and insightful.

-- Posted by KH Gal on Mon, Sep 19, 2011, at 8:03 AM

KH Gal, They are using that in California and and having great luck with it. Problem is that it doesn't work well in the snow belt.

-- Posted by royincaldwell on Mon, Sep 19, 2011, at 10:30 AM

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Roy Pratt
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Almost 65 and retired. Raised by an East Coast liberal. I am also a child of the sixties.