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  1. #1
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    no to the gas tax

    Gas Taxes Are High Enough
    By MARY E. PETERS
    January 18, 2008; Page A13

    Anyone who drives on the highways knows we have a serious and growing traffic problem. This problem has grown from a nuisance to a major economic, environmental and energy threat that costs the country over $78 billion each year in lost time and wasted fuel.

    Traffic is just as bad in areas that have low gas taxes as it is in areas that have high gas taxes. And roads are just as jammed in areas that spend a lot on transportation as they are in areas that spend a little. It's clear that our national approach to transportation isn't working. This failure is bad for families, business productivity and the environment. It also distorts real estate markets.

    Three years ago Congress created two commissions to examine surface transportation policies and financing. Yesterday, one of those commissions, the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Commission, gave its recommendations to Congress.

    Unfortunately, its report maintains a strong emphasis on status quo solutions at a time when the country needs an entirely new transportation policy. As a result, I and two other commissioners have declined to endorse the report's central recommendations. Instead, we issued a chairman's statement that's available at www.dot.gov.

    Among the most troubling proposals, the report recommends an up-to 40-cent-per-gallon federal gasoline tax increase over the next five years, with automatic increases every year thereafter tied to inflation. This would more than triple federal fuel taxes from current levels by 2018.

    The report also calls for even larger increases to state gas taxes, and the creation of a new federal bureaucracy to centralize transportation spending decisions. It recommends new limitations on states' ability to attract billions in private sector capital available to invest in transportation infrastructure. And it supports federal taxes on all public transportation and intercity passenger rail trips, which, if enacted, would be the first time ever a federal tax was added to the cost of a public transportation ride.

    Contrary to the views of the majority of the commission, we do not believe Washington is capable of spending billions more of Americans' money wisely when it comes to transportation investments. Anyone who doubts that should review the more than 6,000 earmarks in the last transportation bill or visit the new Woodstock Museum in upstate New York.

    Even if Congress loses its taste for pork, raising gas taxes and spending more on highways still won't improve the quality of Americans' commutes, though it would likely make them more expensive. We tried this already and it simply doesn't work.

    Over the past 25 years, the federal government has increased transportation spending by 100%, yet traffic has grown by over 300%. Not surprisingly, recent studies, including one last summer by the Government Accountability Office, have found that higher gas taxes do nothing to improve traffic congestion.

    We believe that this country can do much better than simply charging drivers more to sit in never-ending traffic jams. Thanks to technology, an innovative private sector, pioneering state and local officials, and a sustained effort by our administration to encourage reform, a clear alternative has emerged.

    This past year, over 20 major cities in the U.S. have submitted proposals to the Department of Transportation to implement some form of electronic tolling that will both reduce congestion and generate needed revenue for transportation projects. Thanks to new open-road technology, these pricing programs can be put in place without forcing a single driver to slow down to pay a toll or have their transponder "read."

    Unlike much of the rest of the world -- including China, India and Europe -- as a nation we've barely taken advantage of the billions of private-sector dollars currently available for investment in new road, bridge and other transportation projects. With the kind of encouragement we're recommending, many more states could soon be able to pay for new transportation projects without having to increase taxes, sell new bonds or go further into debt.

    California, Florida, Indiana, Texas and the city of Chicago have already raised significant new revenue and improved highways with the support of the private sector. Just last month, Virginia announced that it had reached agreement with private investors to construct some of the most sophisticated, variably priced lanes in the world on the Capital Beltway. The symbolism of that project's location should be lost on no one.

    We are at a point where change is no longer theoretical, it is actually happening across the country. We need to encourage, not constrain, state and local leaders willing to pursue fundamentally different strategies to finance and manage transportation systems. And we need to recognize that the needs of commuters and shippers, not the desires of central planners, should drive investment decisions.

    The choice is clear. Americans can have higher taxes, more wasteful spending, more congestion and greater pollution. Or they can let the market and state and local governments bring the benefits of a technologically advanced, reliable and high-speed surface transportation system.

    Ms. Peters is the secretary of transportation.

  2. #2
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Are you kidding me. Toll road across america
    "The choice is clear. Americans can have higher taxes, more wasteful spending, more congestion and greater pollution. Or they can let the market and state and local governments bring the benefits of a technologically advanced, reliable and high-speed surface transportation system."

    To bad the solution isn't as clear as this ranting. IF state and local gov. could they would have done this over the last 50 years. Look at Chicago they have good highways but mass transit if falling apart. And what part of the market is going to reduce the congestion and greater pollution?

    The choice is clear with out leadership we will get higher taxes, more wasteful spending, more congestion and greater pollution.

  3. #3
    Cries on hills supton's Avatar
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    I so can't wait for those stupid tolls to go away... I don't mind paying tolls--they make sense on certain roads, so as to help pay for them--but they aren't supposed to be on interstates if they are paid for with federal dollars (if I'm mistaken, please correct me), and they do waste gas. Most people slam on the brakes for them, and do the lane weave while annoying people, then everyone has to get back up to speed. Waste waste waste. High speed tolls would fix a number of ills, albeit it'll cost jobs -- couple years ago, NH looked at dropping a toll on I95 (in one direction), and that was mentioned. Can't reduce the number of people on the gov't payroll, now can we?

    And I'd like to know just how much of the tolls and gas taxes actually wind up paying for transportation-related items, and not onto pet projects.
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  4. #4
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    it's just been bad planning paired with bad decisions, from the bottom to the top. Cities have allowed developers to build up an area with no regard to the required infrastructure to keep vehicles moving smoothly through the area. Then once it's built up, it's too late because there usually isn't the right of way to expand capacity. How many developments have you seen going in on a single two lane highway with no turning lane. Then cut to five years later when it's an 18 hour a day traffic jam and people wonder wtf happened.

    Same thing with the freeways. Whoever thought it was a good idea to squeeze I-5 down to two lanes going through Seattle should be strung up. How many examples like that are there around the country?

    Tolling isn't the answer and higher taxes aren't necessarily the answer either. There are tons of low cost ideas floating out there that would be easy to implement and save the tax payer tons of money.

    Flex schedules for government workers. No reason some guy working in a cube all day with no interaction has to punch in from 9-5. Make two scheduled start times; 6AM and 10AM. Also give tax bonuses to companies that offer flex scheduling as well (and can demonstrate x% of workers are taking advantage of it). Same thing with telecommuting.

    I've mentioned this before in other posts, but we need to impound cars of drivers that are driving with a suspended license, or no license at all. That would take up to 20% of the cars off the road right away.

    Increase bus scheduling, upgrade the buses and make them easily tracked by gps. I would probably take the bus if it didn't involve two transfers and take twice as long as driving a car (even with heavy traffic). Offer more tax incentives to businesses that encourage bus commuting (i.e. provides free passes).

    Vanpool and carpool. There needs to be systems in place to pair up riders not just within the same company, but with people within the same geographical areas.

    Finally, Ban delivery and LTE trucks from the major roads during rush hour. Nothing gums up the system more than a 40' truck trying to navigate across four lanes of bumper to bumper traffic.

    None of these solutions would cost a ton of money, and just implementing one of them would do much more to relieve congestion than tolling would ever do. However, the bottom line is, cities and states don't want to relieve congestion, they just want more tax money.

  5. #5
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    More toll roads??? Just another way big money is turning the government into a private profit center.

  6. #6
    Recumbent Trike countersTrike's Avatar
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    People are "coming apart" mentally without their cars/trucks as it is. If this so-called recession hits oil dependent idiots any harder, I am not sure if the rest of society is ready for worsening anarchy higher taxes might bring.

    countersTrike

  7. #7
    Instigator at best kjohnnytarr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by countersTrike View Post
    People are "coming apart" mentally without their cars/trucks as it is. If this so-called recession hits oil dependent idiots any harder, I am not sure if the rest of society is ready for worsening anarchy higher taxes might bring.

    countersTrike
    Just like the 20s were built up on hollow stock-trades, our current economy has long been based on useless cars and impractical homes. No wonder it's crashing.
    Quote Originally Posted by JoshFrank View Post
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  8. #8
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    The worst thing about privately owned toll roads is that the agreements generally include a non-compete clause... these clauses have been used to force cities to lower speed limits on adjacent streets, as well as to block needed upgrades to local roads near the toll roads.

    Then again... big corporations practically own the government anyway, right?
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  9. #9
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    What happens to these privately owned toll roads when/if they are no longer profitable? Would they just shut down?
    Not too much to say here

  10. #10
    Crankenstein bmclaughlin807's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maddyfish View Post
    What happens to these privately owned toll roads when/if they are no longer profitable? Would they just shut down?
    No... they put more pressure on the city governments to slow down alternate routes to FORCE more traffic onto the toll roads. (It happened here in Denver!)
    "There is no greater wonder than the way the face and character of a woman fit so perfectly in a man's mind, and stay there, and he could never tell you why. It just seems it was the thing he most wanted." Robert Louis Stevenson

  11. #11
    In the right lane gerv's Avatar
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    Among the most troubling proposals, the report recommends an up-to 40-cent-per-gallon federal gasoline tax increase over the next five years, with automatic increases every year thereafter tied to inflation. This would more than triple federal fuel taxes from current levels by 2018.
    Wouldn't that reduce the number of cars blocking my way to work each day? If so, I vote yes.

  12. #12
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    Tolls are coming folks.

    Gas taxes are being rejected by Republicans and Democrates but tolls roads and selling off highways to private investors (who will build tolls) is seen as the next alternative. I still think if you tax the hell out of gas and make it very expensive (10 dollar tax) it will have the same effect as a costly toll.

    I can assure you once private investors start building tolls, motoring is going to get very expensive. It's just another way state governments can get rid of the high cost of freeway maintenance by selling them to private investors who are going to **** the motorist.

    New Jersey wants to double the Turnpike toll over the next four years to balance the budget. Wasington is just not giving us our money and the motorist is going to have to subsidize government.

    I traveled over 2 bridges and 1 tunnel and paid close to $18.00 dollars in tolls and $10.00 dollars in gas for a three hour ride last weekend. It was the first time I've driven in close to a year but I was amazed at how expensive motoring has become. More reason to become car free.

  13. #13
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    It frightens me that someone in her position feels that privatization of roads is a good thing.

    It sounds like a nightmare to me, primarily because of the attached non-compete clauses.

    --------

    I actually think that gas taxes should be increased. A flat tax simply cannot keep pace with inflation. That said, I strongly believe that new roads is not the answer. If we are going to keep building new roads I would prefer to have the costs billed directly to the developers. How many times have we seen huge subdivisions, or shopping centers built that immediately require huge infrastructure expenditures to accommodate them. The only people who benefit from this expense are the developers themselves. Yes, it can increase the tax base, but typically not enough to even recoup the expense of the utilities to support them.

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    don't forget the tinfoil hat angle of tolled roads. The government will be able to track your movements 24/7 if all the roads are tolled.

    Doesn't sound like a big deal, until you hear of private citizens using the data for civil lawsuits (divorces). Your employer will be able to track you at all times. Your insurance company will be able to track you at all times and adjust your rates accordingly.

    I also find it rather ironic that people who are against tolled roads don't seem to have a problem with red light or speeding cameras. Those are just another form of toll, and cities make damn sure you get nicked (usually by lowering yellow light timings).

    It's all designed to nickel and dime you to death. If people actually added up all the day to day little taxes that go by unnoticed (or were forced to pay them twice a year like property taxes), they would be ****ting bricks.

  15. #15
    livin' the nightmare syn0n's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bizzz111 View Post
    don't forget the tinfoil hat angle of tolled roads. The government will be able to track your movements 24/7 if all the roads are tolled.

    Doesn't sound like a big deal, until you hear of private citizens using the data for civil lawsuits (divorces). Your employer will be able to track you at all times. Your insurance company will be able to track you at all times and adjust your rates accordingly.

    I also find it rather ironic that people who are against tolled roads don't seem to have a problem with red light or speeding cameras. Those are just another form of toll, and cities make damn sure you get nicked (usually by lowering yellow light timings).

    It's all designed to nickel and dime you to death. If people actually added up all the day to day little taxes that go by unnoticed (or were forced to pay them twice a year like property taxes), they would be ****ting bricks.
    +1

    I don't want an RFID transponder on my car, I don't want APNR technologies that read license plates and record the locations where they've been seen, and I don't like red light cameras because they're clearly about getting more money out of people, not actually making anything safer. The yellow lights are so damn short at the intersections where they're installed, and speed limit signs sometimes are nowhere near to intersections, for any driver who doesn't know the area well, they're just going to have to guess.

    Privatizing things like our nations road infastructure is a hideously stupid idea.

  16. #16
    not a role model JeffS's Avatar
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    I hope you don't carry a mobile phone if you're worried about being tracked...

    Red light cameras, seatbelt laws, the way traffic laws are enforced, the traffic court "business" -- they could all be ranted about.

    You know what though... none of that means a thing if I'm not driving. It is sad that we're content to let our government abuse us like this. It's just another in a long list of necessary evils required to get your car fix.

  17. #17
    Senior Member acroy's Avatar
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    This is a tough issue - who pays to build roads? who pays to repair existing ones?

    Personally i am a big fan of "if you use it, you pay for it". Some sort of use-based toll or fee taking into account how far, when & where you went, in what kind of vehicle.

    i.e. you drive to the movie house, in the 'burbs, on "off-hours", an a Civic. You pay a lot less than the 18-wheeler driving through Seattle on I-5 during rush hour.

    You use the road (not just the use, but when also, like cell phone minutes), you pay for it.

    The current situation is a mess with public & private toll roads, tolls & other fees being treated as part of the budget and a way for the gv't to waste more money, corruption between the government & private road owners...

    Heck, I've convinced myself! I want a piece of this business, sounds like an awesome racket!
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  18. #18
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Tolls are a good thing. For one thing, I don't have to pay them because I'm carfree. I'm sick of paying for roads that I don't use. Another good thing about tolls is that they reduce unnecessary trips. That reduces both congestion and pollution. I'm all for that, like most carfree people.

    Think it through. If you're carfree or carlite, toll roads make a lot of sense.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  19. #19
    Sophomoric Member Roody's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bizzz111 View Post
    I also find it rather ironic that people who are against tolled roads don't seem to have a problem with red light or speeding cameras. Those are just another form of toll, and cities make damn sure you get nicked (usually by lowering yellow light timings).

    It's all designed to nickel and dime you to death. If people actually added up all the day to day little taxes that go by unnoticed (or were forced to pay them twice a year like property taxes), they would be ****ting bricks
    .
    It might nickel and dime bad drivers, but most of us on this board are carfree cyclists. We like to see redlight runners and speeders get "nicked". Actually, I'd like to see them go to jail. It makes the roads safer for those of us who actually ride bicycles. Tolls and high traffic fines are the way to go.


    "Think Outside the Cage"

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    It might nickel and dime bad drivers, but most of us on this board are carfree cyclists. We like to see redlight runners and speeders get "nicked". Actually, I'd like to see them go to jail. It makes the roads safer for those of us who actually ride bicycles. Tolls and high traffic fines are the way to go.
    will you say the same thing when they require bicyclists to have a toll transponder attached to their bike to pay for all the bike lanes and MUP's? Or the required bike license that seems to be gaining traction in some of the states around the country? You may say it will never happen, but if it becomes widespread for drivers, they will raise holy hell about cyclists, who they already mistakenly think are getting a "free ride" and "don't pay their fair share".

    And we've gone round and round about the red light cams before. It's been proven that many cities shorten the length of the yellow light to grab more drivers and increase the revenue. It's also been proven that it doesn't make the intersection any safer.

    Would you rather have some guy swerve into the bike lane and take you out because the person in front of him slammed on his brakes to avoid getting a ticket due to a short yellow?

    There are ways to reduce congestion, pay for required upgrades, and make the roads safer, however none of the politicians are interested in doing any of them, so we are stuck with poorly thought out fixes like road privatization and red light cams.

  21. #21
    Senior Member wheel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roody View Post
    Tolls are a good thing. For one thing, I don't have to pay them because I'm carfree. I'm sick of paying for roads that I don't use. Another good thing about tolls is that they reduce unnecessary trips. That reduces both congestion and pollution. I'm all for that, like most carfree people.

    Think it through. If you're carfree or carlite, toll roads make a lot of sense.

    here is a good example of why you should care
    http://maps.google.com/maps?q=Harris...2135&z=12&om=0

    To get across a river, I need to into a downtown urban area 6 miles away, cross the bridge provided, then travel back down 6 miles to be on the other side of the river.

    Toll road 76 would ruduce this trip to 1 mile and cost 75 cents but they don't allow a frikin bike.
    When they talked about replacing the bridge, They wanted to tear it down and build a new one next to it.
    Not even a peep of keeping it open for peds and bikes.

    Tolls road must allow bikes if no other route is close. Because it is private they can do what they want as in terms of rules.

    I think we need tokeep it public space. Or provide public space for people not wanting to use private entities.

  22. #22
    Pedaled too far. Artkansas's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve View Post
    I can assure you once private investors start building tolls, motoring is going to get very expensive. It's just another way state governments can get rid of the high cost of freeway maintenance by selling them to private investors who are going to **** the motorist.

    And then there are the unseen costs. How much will be spent on politicians to ensure that alternative ways to get from point a to point b are unavailable? That includes bikepaths, sidewalks and city streets.

  23. #23
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bmclaughlin807 View Post
    No... they put more pressure on the city governments to slow down alternate routes to FORCE more traffic onto the toll roads. (It happened here in Denver!)
    OK, So couldn't bikes be considered to be competing with the toll roads? As a way to get around paying? So the owners of the toll road could pressure cities to limit bike useage?
    Not too much to say here

  24. #24
    livin' the nightmare syn0n's Avatar
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    Toll roads aren't good for anyone except the corporations that own the roads. If you cycle, they don't have to let you on their roads. Alternative routes will be more conjested because lots of motorists aren't going to pay, no matter what. This means more accidents, wasted fuel, and wasted time.

    The roads belong to the people. Let's keep it that way.

  25. #25
    Senior Member maddyfish's Avatar
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    Well normally I think that private corporations and individuals can do most things better than the government, but if the government can't build, maintain, and operate roads, then what good is the government?
    Not too much to say here

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