No more roads. It is hard enough to maintain what we’ve got

Credit: Jupiter Images via SlateAmerica does not need more roads. We have enough pavement in the United States to at least cover the entire state of Georgia (61,000 square miles, and that is an old study). Enough is enough.

According to a recent article published by Slate, “the last thing America needs from [President] Trump’s infrastructure plan is more more roads.”

I could not agree more. We have enough roads and are struggling to maintain what we already have. Instead, fix the bridges and look for more ways to increase our mass transit use and decrease our need to use motorized vehicles for everything we do. That means walk, bike, bus, train, etc. We also need to reduce the number of trips we take, including building homes and corporate campuses further out into the exurbs, away from our population centers.

From the article:

America does not need more roads, suspended or otherwise. The rural population, after three decades of declining growth, started shrinking in 2010. In America’s metro areas, where more than 4 in 5 Americans live, the road network has been expanding faster than population growth since 1980. That has created an unprecedented maintenance crisis, in addition to facilitating sprawl, harming the environment, undermining Main Street commerce, and draining local budgets.

Not only should we not be building more roads, we shouldn’t necessarily be repairing the ones we have.

Precisely. The article shares multitudes of road mile numbers and statistical data showing that population continues to shift toward urban environments. We don’t need to encourage more driving, rather better mass transit and density planning.

That frenetic pace of expansion has created a maintenance crisis, among other problems. Old miles still outnumber new ones 99 to 1 every year, but states spend more money making incremental additions to the road network than taking care of the rest.

We cannot pay for the roads we have. This article mentions it, but I’ll say it again: We need to increase the federal and state gas taxes to help pay for roadway maintenance. Let the road users pay at the pump. If it is too expensive to purchase fuel, they will have to consider alerting their transportation habits and needs.

We are way overdue for an increase, according to this article in the Washington Post (2014):

It was last raised, in the year 1993, to 18.4 cents per gallon. That’s over 20 years ago, and gas prices at the time were close to the now unimaginable $1.00 per gallon mark. Yet the amount of the gas tax was fixed and not tied to inflation — so it has not changed since. (U.S. states also charge gasoline taxes; the national average is about 23.5 cents.)

Funding is a problem and will remain one. As an article on Brookings points out, Trump’s infrastructure plans are a “fantasy.”

Raise the federal and state gas taxes. Walk and bike more. Drive less. Be happy.

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