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Old February 15th, 2011, 06:16 AM   #6461
Snowguy716
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I agree with the idea that increased gas taxes will change the type of cars we drive more than driving people from driving at all. Public transit will still see increases and it warrants expansion of PT networks, especially in mid-sized to large cities.

Honestly, it will be housing policies that change how we live and drive people away from cars (pardon the pun).

President Obama's recent call to eliminate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac will likely be embraced by many Democrats and most Republicans. Obama's statement that home ownership isn't necessarily a right is a major change as every president since FDR has championed home ownership as the main piece of the American dream.

With loans tougher to get with less backup from the feds, home ownership will decline... but with that, renting will increase and this will spur more dense developments as land owners will want to milk as much rent out of a piece of land as possible. This will also drive people towards public transit as density and congestion increases.
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Old February 15th, 2011, 07:22 PM   #6462
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Interstate (with the exception of beltways) should be tolled. If I'm going from Indianapolis to Chicago, I don't think a $3 toll is gonna hurt me mcuh. But I'm strictly against tolls within city limits.
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Old February 15th, 2011, 07:25 PM   #6463
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With European tolls a trip from New York to Chicago would cost you $ 200 in tolls.
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Old February 15th, 2011, 07:34 PM   #6464
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With European tolls a trip from New York to Chicago would cost you $ 200 in tolls.
OK now that's insane. Considering it's on top of ridiculously highly-taxed gasoline.

For a trip NY-Chicago, I'd say $20-25 for cars, $100 for trucks. It'd be peanuts for NYers though, those guys are used to paying $35/30 minutes parking!
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Old February 15th, 2011, 07:38 PM   #6465
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It'd be peanuts for NYers though, those guys are used to paying $35/30 minutes parking!
That's insane for us. I never saw a car park costing more than 2€/h.

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Old February 15th, 2011, 08:47 PM   #6466
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In my small city it is € 1 per 22 minutes...
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Old February 16th, 2011, 07:52 AM   #6467
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In my small city/small town parking is free... but limited to 2-3 hours unless you buy a $40/year permit. Most employees just do the 3 hour shuffle, moving their cars around to different parking spots to escape paying.
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Old February 16th, 2011, 01:37 PM   #6468
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With loans tougher to get with less backup from the feds, home ownership will decline... but with that, renting will increase and this will spur more dense developments as land owners will want to milk as much rent out of a piece of land as possible. This will also drive people towards public transit as density and congestion increases.
Wishful thinking. Germany has a quite low home ownership rate, and a car usage share not much different than those of France or Italy, where incomes/tax systems are somehow comparable but home ownership is way higher.

Decreasing support for home ownership will likely drive prices down and, to a certain extent, put some people (who couldn't afford homes in first place) out of the market.

Home ownership, in itself, doesn't dictate the type of housing pattern people lives most in, except in cases of social housing and alike. You can have a fair large base of renters with a fair large share of single detached homes and alike - Germany being an example of this.
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Old February 18th, 2011, 07:44 AM   #6469
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Quote:
Originally Posted by siamu maharaj View Post
Interstate (with the exception of beltways) should be tolled. If I'm going from Indianapolis to Chicago, I don't think a $3 toll is gonna hurt me mcuh. But I'm strictly against tolls within city limits.
Tolls would be a good way to pay for Interstates. I'm not sure why there is a law mandating no tolls on Interstates (other than the Turnpikes that were grandfathered in or whatnot, and one or two exceptions like the one in South Carolina). I don't like tolls at all, but a "user fee" makes the most sense to pay for highway maintenance and infrastructure expansion. After all, why should someone in New Mexico help pay the bill for the Big Dig in Boston? Why should someone in South Dakota help pay for the new Interstates in North Carolina?
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Old February 18th, 2011, 09:59 AM   #6470
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After all, why should someone in New Mexico help pay the bill for the Big Dig in Boston? Why should someone in South Dakota help pay for the new Interstates in North Carolina?
Because secession back in 1861 was thwarted, and you're in the same Nation. Everybody pays for everything in one Nation, or at least they should. Otherwise there would be no point in the idea of Nation itself. "Why should someone in Nevada pay for the war in Afghanistan, or for one bureaucrat in DC, or for an ambassador in New Guinea?"
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Old February 18th, 2011, 10:31 AM   #6471
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There is no need for toll roads. They need to adjust the gas taxes according to inflation and divert all gas taxes towards road funding. Plus the United States needs a national road rehabilitation programme.
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Old February 18th, 2011, 01:12 PM   #6472
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Tolls would be a good way to pay for Interstates. I'm not sure why there is a law mandating no tolls on Interstates (other than the Turnpikes that were grandfathered in or whatnot, and one or two exceptions like the one in South Carolina). I don't like tolls at all, but a "user fee" makes the most sense to pay for highway maintenance and infrastructure expansion. After all, why should someone in New Mexico help pay the bill for the Big Dig in Boston? Why should someone in South Dakota help pay for the new Interstates in North Carolina?
History is as follows: when Eisenhower installed a committee to plan the financing of a national highway system for US, some alternatives were considered. There was, already, the experience of Northeastern turnpikes, built mainly on private bonds. However, tolls were not popular, as some schemes had public-guarantees and so. Moreover, many stretches of the Interstate Highway System couldn't be financed by tolls at all, mainly those in (then) sparsely populated states with difficult terrain for construction like ID, CO, AZ, NM. Yet, the transcontinental links where a key feature of the system, though some opposed the need, in 1956, to build I-80 or I-40 over the Rockies, crucial transportation links today.

So decision followed to build a toll-free system. They grandfathered the Turnpikes, which hadn't been built with federal dollars anyway. Then, they created the Highway Trust Fund to pay up to 90% of the construction costs (financed with federal gas taxes on fuel, tires, engine lubes etc.). As the States were going to be responsible for the managing the system, there was a concern of the possibility that transit states with small population like South Dakota or Arizona would see passing traffic as a cash cow to be milked through tolls. Therefore, tolls were prohibited in any sector of Interstate built with money from the trust.

However, after the 1990's legislation was tweaked, first to allow HOT lanes. Later, to include a provision that would allow tolling a highway paid by the feds if significant improvements paid by private money were to be made (Before that, only schemes like separated new toll lanes would be allowed). I don't know how regulation is today, but it seems it was tweaked again to include "structural improvements and major refurbishing" on the roll of circumstances that can be used to levy a toll.

I think that the problem, however, is the gas tax that hasn't been raised according to inflation since 1997 of $ 0.18/gallon. That is too low to keep the system when construction costs increased at least 150% over last 15 years and - more important- when almost 25% of the highway fund is diverted to purposes like building sidewalks or signaling park trails at locations near the interstates. Fortunately the Highway Trust Fund can't be used to invest in rail, otherwise it would be drained as a tank hit by a bomb.
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Old February 18th, 2011, 06:49 PM   #6473
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There is no need for toll roads. They need to adjust the gas taxes according to inflation and divert all gas taxes towards road funding. Plus the United States needs a national road rehabilitation programme.
Each NE , Southern and Western state has one , but they vary so much. The NE has the best policy (not surprising).... We have started about 15 years ago repairing bridges , tunnels and roads.....its a slow process in some areas due congestion...
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Old February 18th, 2011, 07:49 PM   #6474
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America should also try and control costs. This 1-lane road in front of my house had to add an addition lane (to make a central lane for turning), lay a pipe and add a sidewalk. The total length was 0.7 miles (a tad over a kilometer). It took, wait for it, 5 months to do it. And there were workers working on it all thru that time. I don't even know what the hell were they working on. Now that the work has finished, the quality is so bad, most drivers drive in the central lane to avoid the bumps. I bet they paid that contractor in millions. It should've taken no more than 2-3 weeks. There's absolutely no excuse for such a thing. Now I'm not saying that it's that bad all over America, but I'm sure this is not limited to just that 1 km stretch of road.
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Old February 20th, 2011, 03:21 AM   #6475
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Some I278 shots i took in Brooklyn they other day...

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DSC03799 by Nexis4Jersey09, on Flickr

Exit 28 form Old Fulton Street...

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DSC03814 by Nexis4Jersey09, on Flickr

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DSC03816 by Nexis4Jersey09, on Flickr

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DSC03833 by Nexis4Jersey09, on Flickr

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DSC03834 by Nexis4Jersey09, on Flickr

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DSC03831 by Nexis4Jersey09, on Flickr

Exit for the Manhattan bridge...

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DSC03846 by Nexis4Jersey09, on Flickr
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Old February 20th, 2011, 03:44 AM   #6476
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I-395 going into Miami Beach from the main land (Downtown Miami, FL)
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I-95 going south...Miami, Florida
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I-95 going north from Brickell area - Miami, Florida
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Old February 20th, 2011, 07:05 PM   #6477
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I'll be cursed and reviled by many for saying this (it's happened before), but IMO the policy decision to build the Interstate System as a uniform network of toll free controlled access highways was a huge mistake. I think we'd have been better off with a mix of turnpikes where they were viable, lower quality roads such as super twos or at-grade dual expressways with controlled access bypasses of significant towns for the most remote areas, and toll free motorways for segments with moderate traffic. There are a variety of reasons why I believe this:

1. By the 1950's, the US road system was inadequate across the board. It wasn't just a matter of needing new express and long-distance routes-- congestion and excessive accident rates plagued much of the nation's road system. I'm too lazy to look it up now, but I remember a comment by Richard Nixon (!) that one issue was that our courts were being overburdened by the legal detritus of accidents that really never should've happened.

Had a large proportion of the early Interstate System been built as turnpikes, the remaining road funding could've been allocated to other routes, specifically those where congestion and accidents were most problematic. I also think that it's extremely likely that doing this would've increased road funding overall-- during the '50's, gas prices were extremely low, even after the fuel taxes that funded the Interstate System were imposed.

2. There's an equity issue, too: I'm not at all on board with the idea that residents of Miami (for instance) have no interest in good-quality highways across the Rockies, but consolidating long-distance traffic onto a relatively few Interstate corridors rather than an extensive network of US highways isolated many towns that had previously been on the national map. Of course, building a turnpike in a given corridor rather than a free motorway would have some of the same effect, but tolls would've provided an incentive for some long-distance traffic to stick to the old routes, freed up funding for incremental improvement of these routes, and not forced communities away from the Interstate corridors to help fund the very roads that lead to their own demise.

For example: If I were driving from Atlanta to DC, I-85 and I-95 would be the best way to go. But... if they were tolled, US 29 and GA/SC 72 to Rock Hill SC and US 29 from Greensboro NC to DC would be an attractive option, especially if improvements to 72 were a lot more advanced than they are.

3. The relatively rapid completion of the core of the Interstate System dealt a strong blow to the nation's rail and streetcar systems, one from which we still haven't recovered. I'm not arguing that the Interstate System was solely responsible, but it was surely a contributor. Now we're playing a slow game up catch-up with both freight and passenger rail, and building modern light rail at enormous expense to recreate some shadow of the transit network we once had. Surely it would've been cheaper and better to devote a lot more effort to maintaining a good proportion of our legacy transportation network rather than abandoning it in favor of expensive new highways, especially if doing so was a matter of spending less money more carefully.

4. For the turnpikes themselves, tolls would've provided a ready source of funding for both maintenance and, eventually, expansion and reconstruction. That's presumably why the voters of Ohio opted to keep tolls on the Ohio Turnpike once the bonds were paid off rather than sticking all of the state's motorists with the expense of keeping it in good repair.

Having said this, the question isn't entirely a slam dunk. There were advantages to the approach that was taken, and thinking about and discussing the various options has provided me with many hours of enjoyment.
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Old February 20th, 2011, 08:14 PM   #6478
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I'll be cursed and reviled by many for saying this (it's happened before), but IMO the policy decision to build the Interstate System as a uniform network of toll free controlled access highways was a huge mistake.
I couldn't disagree more. It was one of the boldest and the best decisions made by the US government after IIWW.
It made transportations of goods and people easier and safer over the long distances.
It also fueled internal migrations making workforce more mobile.

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Had a large proportion of the early Interstate System been built as turnpikes, the remaining road funding could've been allocated to other routes, specifically those where congestion and accidents were most problematic.
Free interstates did just that, alleviated problems on older crowded and dangerous roads by taking majority of the traffic. Tolled turnpikes would keep a lot of traffic on old dangerous roads.

Quote:
2. There's an equity issue, too: I'm not at all on board with the idea that residents of Miami (for instance) have no interest in good-quality highways across the Rockies, but consolidating long-distance traffic onto a relatively few Interstate corridors rather than an extensive network of US highways isolated many towns that had previously been on the national map. Of course, building a turnpike in a given corridor rather than a free motorway would have some of the same effect, but tolls would've provided an incentive for some long-distance traffic to stick to the old routes, freed up funding for incremental improvement of these routes, and not forced communities away from the Interstate corridors to help fund the very roads that lead to their own demise
For example: If I were driving from Atlanta to DC, I-85 and I-95 would be the best way to go. But... if they were tolled, US 29 and GA/SC 72 to Rock Hill SC and US 29 from Greensboro NC to DC would be an attractive option, especially if improvements to 72 were a lot more advanced than they are.
One of the best aspects of free interstates paid by federal government is that they allowed easy transit across the country on unified, extensive and safe network. It made roads safer in Miami as well as in Dakotas.
I don't understand idea of dispersing transit artificially on multiple low quality roads (like in your example from Atlanta do D.C.). Maintaining such network would be more expensive than maintaining two freeways. Freeways are also significantly safer than lower grade roads.

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3. The relatively rapid completion of the core of the Interstate System dealt a strong blow to the nation's rail and streetcar systems, one from which we still haven't recovered. I'm not arguing that the Interstate System was solely responsible, but it was surely a contributor. Now we're playing a slow game up catch-up with both freight and passenger rail, and building modern light rail at enormous expense to recreate some shadow of the transit network we once had. Surely it would've been cheaper and better to devote a lot more effort to maintaining a good proportion of our legacy transportation network rather than abandoning it in favor of expensive new highways, especially if doing so was a matter of spending less money more carefully.
That's typical pro public transport mantra. Some of it might be justified but there are many factors more responsible for demise of public transport in America. Germany has extensive network of excellent free motorways but also one of the best public transport in the world.

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4. For the turnpikes themselves, tolls would've provided a ready source of funding for both maintenance and, eventually, expansion and reconstruction. That's presumably why the voters of Ohio opted to keep tolls on the Ohio Turnpike once the bonds were paid off rather than sticking all of the state's motorists with the expense of keeping it in good repair.
Fuel and road tax if managed probably are much cheaper to collect than tolls. The biggest problem are low level of those taxes and not lack of tolls.
If you install tolls you have to pay for all the expensive infrastructure like toll plazas, gates, employees, management fees etc. Collecting fuel and road tax on the other hand is really easy, you just have to raise it along the inflation.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 01:40 AM   #6479
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Reading some of the previous posts I think the Interstate system is one of the best things to happen to this country. Such a genius idea that made this country better. With the aspect of tolls and road funding don't commercial truckers pay a tax that helps maintain these roads? A guy I worked with who used to be a trucker pretty much said that Interstate highways aren't really free when it comes to commercial trucking.
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Old February 24th, 2011, 03:53 PM   #6480
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True

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The states that have a tax on their fuel, impose a tax on commercial drivers that travel through their state, even if the fuel is not purchased in that state. The paper work for this taxed on a quarterly basis and filed somewhat like a federal tax return that is done yearly. Most commercial truck drivers have an agent fill out the paper work. The driver calls in their information, the agent figures out how much tax should be paid to each state, then the agent faxes the forms to the driver and they are required to carry the papers with them along with their travel log books.
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