White House Briefly Mentions Fixing Our Horrible Roads
On Thursday, President Joe Biden spent part of his day listening to a group of lawmakers discuss how much the United States might need to spend on fixing its horrible infrastructure. It’s an issue America has neglected through multiple administrations and has frequently been set back by partisan conflict.
Considering the White House is ruminating on how to source trillions of dollars in new infrastructure spending after the U.S. just printed $9 trillion (almost 25 percent all USD currently in circulation) for COVID relief, that’s unlikely to change. Everyone is worried about raising taxes and causing inflation during a period of economic uncertainty, or skeptical that the government will use the new funding responsibly. But our roads (among other infrastructure projects) are reaching a point where they can no longer be ignored, placing the entire country in a particularly sour pickle.
Do You Use Any of These 'Freeways Without Futures?'
Urban transportation is a slippery fish. No two cities are the same, and most need to harmonize foot, rail, bike, bus, and automobile transportation to ensure everyone can get where they’re going in a timely manner. Unfortunately, as the constantly changing recipe varies significantly between towns, some projects can hamper a city’s wellbeing.
Take New York as an example. The city’s subway system is well on its way to becoming an unmitigated disaster as more and more disgruntled residents lean on ride-hailing services as an alternative. This has increased on-road congestion, without making the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s underground option cheaper, less crowded, or more reliable. The city has since decided to enact congestion charges for Lower Manhattan.
Other towns face similar issues, with the presiding logic frequently being little more than “let’s just cram a highway through there.” Unlike in past decades, cities are increasingly hesitant to enact such plans. An ill-placed freeway can spell disaster for local communities, just as a well-placed one can help bedroom communities thrive. Congress for the New Urbanism (CNU) recently released a list of 10 highways it would like to see demolished in order to create more walkable, connected neighborhoods under the banner of promoting “great urbanism.”
California Congestion Bill Could Result in American Autobahn
While California has some of the best driving roads in the country, large swaths of the state suffer from serious congestion issues. For years, the preferred solution was to bolster public transit in San Francisco and Los Angeles while simultaneously establishing high-speed rail lines between the two areas. Unfortunately, costs ballooned and support for the project dwindled.
Legislators are now left with a problem. Abandoning the rail program means settling for partially completed lines incapable of transporting passengers directly between LA and the Bay Area. California needs a different solution, and Sen. John Moorlach (R-CA) has a doozy of a proposition: highway lanes with no speed limit.
Effectively, an American Autobahn.
White House At Least Considering Increasing Gas Tax, Needs to Consult Congress
The United States’ 18.4-cent-per-gallon tax on gasoline and 24.4-cent tax on diesel hasn’t changed since 1993. Despite this, the opinion that it should be hiked as a way of funding public works was nowhere near the White House’s official infrastructure strategy. But Donald Trump isn’t averse to the idea. In fact, he proposed a 25-cent increase to senators during a Wednesday meeting as a possible funding solution.
White House officials claim the president says “everything is on the table” in terms of finding a solution for America’s growing infrastructure problems. But how serious the rest of the Trump administration is about raising the fuel tax is debatable.
Here Come the Roads: President 'Big Daddy' Trump Unveils Infrastructure Plan
Few things are sexier than a new road. The scent of fresh tar, smooth pavement that’s still warm to the touch — it’s an absolute feast for the senses. After roughly a year of waiting, President Trump finally seems poised to deliver on a bunch of them. The White House has just offered Congress a 53-page report detailing exactly how to rattle loose $1.5 trillion in investments into the country’s ailing infrastructure.
Maybe “poised” is the wrong word to use; how about we just say that he’s been interested in the idea that somebody should build them.
Expect Democrats to complain that the plan totally fails to create a dedicated funding stream to address the infrastructure issue and Republicans to gripe about how the small federal investment, set at $200 billion, is still far too large. It’s a beautiful system we have here.
Trump Flips Script on Who's Paying to Fix Our Crumbling Infrastructure
Last week, I defended the president’s honor and lamented that I probably wouldn’t have a follow-up opportunity for some time. As it turns out, that claim is in no danger of becoming a falsehood. On Tuesday, President Trump told lawmakers he was ditching a key aspect of his planned $1 trillion infrastructure package — namely, who is going to pay for it.
Spoiler alert: its going to be taxpayers.
The White House previously envisioned a strategy where private investors would be lured into rebuilding roadways, bridges, and rail networks with promises of federal backing and a less-daunting approvals process. But now it’s saying partnerships between the private sector and federal government might not work.
You'll Never Guess Where Radiohead's OK Computer Highway Interchange Is
"Houston, We Have an Armored Car Robbery Problem"
For a major city, Houston drivers spend far less time in rush-hour gridlock than those in other large U.S. metropolises. Last year, residents spent an average of 51.5 hours in gridlock, a number unchanged from the year before. Compare that to Los Angeles’ 104.1 hours, Atlanta’s 70.8, Washington, DC’s 61 or Boston’s 57.6.
Overall, Houston ranks the 11th worst city in the U.S. for congestion, despite having the fourth-largest population. The city’s relatively low density and spiderweb of highways makes traversing the urban area an easy task — a benefit for residents who enjoy the leafy suburban life.
Unfortunately, it could also explain the city’s popularity among armored car thieves.
Electric Cars = Quiet Roadways? Not so Fast…
Because we’ll all be travelling around in autonomous electric pods any day now, more and more people want to know whether they’ll be able to hear a pin drop on the sidewalk once those nasty internal combustion vehicles are extinct.
Well, if it’s serene, pastoral bliss you’re looking forward to, don’t expect to find it anywhere near a freeway. The folks at Clean Technica looked at the best studies available on the issue, and the results are bad news for those who think “EV” is another word for “whisper.”
England Studying "Charge As You Drive" Inductive Charging Roads
The British government is continuing on with a study of inductive charging on England’s busy A roads a reality, reports the BBC (via Gizmodo).
Feasibility of the technology hasn’t been fully proven as of yet, but England is getting one step closer by tendering bids for off-road trials. If off-road trials are successful, you might be able to drive long distances across the UK without needing to stop to recharge. The trials are expected to take 18 months from 2016 to 2017.
Elon, you might soon lose your killer app.
Fifty Years of the Trans-Canada Highway
Currently, two of TTAC’s regular writers are [s]lumberjacks[/s] [s]dirty communists[/s] Canadians: myself and Derek Kreindler. Today we celebrate our country’s one hundred and forty fifth year of being a sort of chillier, politer version of Australia.
I love Canada. It’s really… big. It’s big. Sure we discovered insulin and invented the pacemaker and created that game that’s a bit like hockey except there’s some baskets and a big orange thingy that you bounce around (can’t remember the name, tip of the tongue), but really, all true sons and daughters of the North are proud of one thing above all else: Canada’s the biggest country in the world. Apart from Russia, of course.