Sunday, January 9, 2011

Do Roads Pay for Themselves: Setting the Record Straight on Transportation Funding

This month the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (US PIRG)debunks a significant transportation myth: “Highway advocates often claim that roads ‘pay for themselves,’ with gasoline taxes and other charges to motorists covering – or nearly covering – the full cost of highway construction and maintenance. They are wrong.”

This study explains that “highways do not – and, except for brief periods in our nation’s history, never have – paid for themselves through the taxes that highway advocates label ‘user fees.’”

The report points out that the Great Myth carries with it a set of false presumptions and the misreadings can severely distort transportation decision-making.

"In a sensible world, America would invest in transportation projects that deliver the greatest benefits to the population, and pay for those investments in the ways that allocate the costs fairly across society--taking into account the many ways that transportation investments can benefit or harm individuals and businesses. In the world of the Great Myth, however, each transportation mode is presumed to survive only on the money its users can provide--and all the money its users provide should go to that transportation mode, regardless of where the greatest benefits can be achieved. In this paper, we aim to dismantle the Great Myth once and for all...with the hope that by doing so, America can get on with the critical debate about what types of transportation infrastructure to build and how to pay for them, free from false assumptions and the tired slogans of the past." (Introduction, p. 5)

Click here to read the full report.

Update on 1/17/11:

On Jan. 17th, the Naples Daily News carried the following story about the report:
"Collier, Lee officials agree with report that gas taxes don’t fully pay for roads". Click here to read the story.

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