A Gas Tax Isn’t the Only Way to Fund Infrastructure

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The semi-annual discussions on America’s infrastructure spending – including how to fix potholes, as well as bridges, tunnels, ports and public transportation – should be studied in economics classes everywhere. It has everything: supply and demand, the multiplier effect of government spending, the tradeoff of taxation against consumption, international trade/fossil fuel pricing and, of course, politics. And here we are in the first quarter of 2015, where there is lively discussion in the U.S. about raising the gas tax in order to save the highways (this time it’s because gas…read more

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Why Are Most Wintertime Pothole “Repairs” Temporary?

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With freeze-thaw conditions prevalent across much of the country, American motorists may wonder why potholes often linger until spring. The reasons are a combination of physics and economics. First, it helps to understand the consequences. In winter and early spring, drivers everywhere are plagued with blown tires, cracked wheel rims and alignment issues that happen when they drive into one of the millions of potholes that occur in both asphalt and concrete pavement. The Independent Insurance Agents of America reported in 2013 that car repairs from pothole incidences cost about…read more

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California Pavement: Drought, Flood Threats and Green Solutions

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The heavy rains on the West Coast in mid-December 2014 presented a mixed bag for the millions of people who live and work there. On one hand, the ample precipitation may signal the end of a devastating three-year drought. But the damage incurred by flooding and mudslides – with incidences of pavement ripped up by flows of water and earth – means it was a destructive event as well. Facts are that floods and droughts alike can stress and destroy pavement. But some new methods of road building might mitigate…read more

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Do Commuter Tax Benefits and Low Gas Taxes Create More Potholes?

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It’s more than just a pun to say that federal policies toward transportation, road maintenance and conservation are moving targets. As we head into 2015, there are many variables regarding parking subsidies and gas taxes that are at odds with each other. At the top of the news is the price of gas, dipping below $2.00/gallon at mid-December 2014in some locales with a national average around $2.75/gallon. For most of us, that’s great news. Not only is it cheaper to drive – gasoline analysts say American motorists are cumulatively saving $250…read more

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Less Driving = Stop Building New Roads?

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A national research organization argues that automotive trends – vehicle miles traveled per capita, car ownership rates and drivers licenses – are in recession, and that plans to build new highways should be scrapped. Instead, researchers recommend repairing the roads we have, fill the potholes and support alternative means of transportation. Are they right? The answer might be as mixed as the United States is diverse. Indeed, as a group younger people are driving less and opting to live in cities where they have car ownership alternatives, such as public…read more

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