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News & Notes

Actually, Highway Builders, Roads Don’t Pay For Themselves [DC.Streetsblog]

You’ve heard it a thousand times from the highway lobby: Roads pay for themselves through “user fees” | a.k.a. gas taxes and tolls | whereas transit is a drain on the taxpayer. They use this argument to push for new roads, instead of transit, as fiscally prudent investments.

The myth of the self-financed road meets its match today in the form of a new report from the U.S. Public Interest Research Group: “Do Roads Pay For Themselves?” The answer is a resounding “no.” All told, the authors calculate that road construction has sucked $600 billion out of America’s public purse since the dawn of the interstate system.

Pedestrian-Only Shopping Streets Make Communities More Livable [Planetizen]

Pedestrian-oriented shopping streets can be key to making communities more livable, particularly when they are well designed, managed and strategically connected to networks of public transit, pedestrian paths and bike routes, says planning consultant Luis Rodriguez.

Smaller Cities Becoming Hotbeds for High-Tech Growth [Area Development]

By utilizing the strengths of existing business as well as government and academia, smaller cities are becoming hotbeds for the biotech, IT, renewable energy technologies, aerospace/defense, digital media, and a host of other high-tech endeavors.

Editor’s Choice: The Ten Best Opinion Pieces of 2010 [Next American City]

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5 Responses to News & Notes

  1. Miguel January 6, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    That report on roads is heavily one-sided. While it analyzes so-called “user fees” such as gas taxes it fails to take into account ALL the other economic development benefits the automobile has on society. How about the entire industry that has cropped around the automobile, from mechanics, to auto body shops, to detailer, tire shops, car washes, accessories, parts manufactures, insurance companies, etc. All of these businesses employ people, and these people pay federal and state income taxes.

    It can also be argued that road construction and road maintenance generates more jobs and revenue for the government and the economy than the building and maintenance of public transportation networks.

    The economic downsides of the automobile are obvious. One cannot argue that. However, I’d say that the automotive industry, all related industries, have generated a lot more money in the economy then they have consumed.

  2. RunawayJim January 6, 2011 at 2:30 pm #

    Are mechanics, body shops, tire shops, parts, insurance, construction, maintenance, etc not necessary for buses and trains?

    The automobile industry has caused more death and pollution than almost any other industry.

  3. Dan January 6, 2011 at 3:57 pm #

    Polution…ok, but…US deaths attributed to:

    Cigarettes ~440,000
    Obesity and diet ~300,000
    Alcohol ~75,000 (includes drunk driving)
    Automobiles (non alcohol realated) ~30,000

    The winner?? Big Tobacco with the fast food industy close behind and an honorable mention to the liquor industry. Not dismissing the deaths of 30,000 people just looking at the big picture.

  4. Jen Coleslaw January 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    but do you know where people smoke cigarettes and eat fast food?

    In Cars.

    Also I am not sure the auto industry, especially in light of last year’s bailout, plus all the federal money that is spend on roads, highways and bridges can really be said to be a great economic development win.

    I am waiting for someone to make the argument that without the car and roads, the suburbs never would have been built and all that housing never would have been developed etc.

  5. Jef Nickerson January 6, 2011 at 4:11 pm #

    One can choose not to smoke, eat poor foods, or drink. However, we have created a built environment where short of never leaving one’s house, it is damn near impossible to protect yourself from the automobile’s direct (i.e. getting run over by one) or indirect (i.e. poor air quality) impacts.

    I do not own a car, but I can do little to escape the risk of being killed by one.

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