Congress Wrecked America’s Road System
Wednesday, 20 Jun 2012
By Ernest Istook
Why are our roads so congested?
It’s because of a wreck. By spending fuel tax money on things other than roads, Washington has wrecked the way we pay for highways. With dedicated revenue now drained away, roads are clogged due to wasteful practices by government.
Congested roads hurt our entire economy by slowing people and goods from getting where they need to go.
This creates new forms of road rage. Contractors, state and local governments are angry because new transportation plans were due from Congress over 30 months ago. October of 2009 was the deadline to renew the legislation that governs roads, highways, rail and mass transit. The latest extension (#9) runs out on June 30.
Lawmakers are stalemated. This became inevitable years ago when Congress violated the trust of drivers who pay fuel taxes. What began in 1983 as a trickle of diversion is now a flood. Over a third of gas tax money is siphoned off for the insatiable appetites of those who want free or subsidized travel.
As noted by The Heritage Foundation’s Ron Utt: “only about 65 percent of federal surface transportation spending is used to support general-purpose roads, while the remaining 35 percent is diverted to high-cost, underutilized programs like trolley cars, transit, covered bridges, hiking trails, earmarks, administrative overhead, streetscapes, flower planting, hiking and bicycle paths, museums, ‘transportation enhancements,’ tourist attractions, and archaeology.”