What's it going to take? Non PoliticalPosted 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.
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I'm an almost 61 year old transplant from California 6 1/2 years ago. I work in road construction, those dastardly flaggers. My family roots go back to New England farms, not the big city. The last town I lived in when in California grew from 16K to 40K in 10 years, and that was enough to drive me out. I don't engage in or tolerate name calling. Name calling reduces an adult discussion to grade school play yard level. I have never served in the military, but have family members who have, dating back to WW1. I am neither a Democrat nor a Republican. I am neither extremely Liberal or Conservative. I am raising my 16 year old grandson, not what I expected at this age, and dealing with those issues as well as my health and near retirement which are 2 things I intend to talk about. I decided to try my hand at this thanks to the warm welcome I have received on Mike's blog. When I take a position, I will defend it until I am shown that I am mistaken, and when that happens, I apologize. There are other things about me that will come out over time I'm sure.
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