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Wednesday, March 3, 2010
25 percent of gas-tax funds are diverted to sidewalks, bike paths, scenic trails
America's highway system is not delivering the high-quality transportation a competitive economy needs. Congestion gridlocks our urban expressways, costing Americans $76 billion per year in wasted time and fuel. The interstate highways, begun 50 years ago, are wearing out and will need repairs and reconstruction costing many hundreds of billions of dollars. Two national commissions have estimated that the shortfall in productive highway investment (federal, state and local) is in the vicinity of $60 billion to $90 billion per year. We invented the federal Highway Trust Fund in 1956, promising motorists and truckers that all proceeds from a new federal gas tax would be spent on building the interstate system. They aren't. Congress has expanded federal highway spending beyond interstates to all types of roadways. And ever since 1982, a portion of those "highway user taxes" have been diverted to urban transit. Today, the federal role in transportation includes mandating sidewalks, funding bike paths and creating scenic trails. As a result, spending exceeds gas-tax revenues and the Highway Trust Fund is broke. Some claim this is because the 18.3-cents-per-gallon federal gas tax needs to be raised. But drivers can fairly put the blame on the fact that 25 percent of gas-tax funds are diverted to non-highway uses...read more
Frank DuBois served as the NM Secretary of Agriculture from 1988 to 2003. DuBois is a former legislative assistant to a U.S. Senator, a Deputy Assistant Secretary of Interior, and is the founder of the DuBois Rodeo Scholarship.