Senate Transportation bill a DUD, not a THUD
Going by the unfortunate acronym of THUD, the Senate “Transportation and Housing and Urban Development” legislation brings us more of the same old thinking that typified the previous transportation funding bills such as SAFETEA-LU and numerous stopgap funding measures of the past few years. It seems that the Congress has abandoned the idea that a functioning transportation system is part of a functioning nation, satisfied with a D+ from the American Society of Engineers. This rating doesn’t even address issues like whether the transit and biking and walking systems are sufficient to meet our needs, looking only at the physical condition of existing infrastructure. While its disturbing that so many bridges are approaching the point of collapse, many communities never have built safe walking and cycling systems and have struggled to fund transit.
Streetsblogusa documents how Senate Transportation bill is just not enough to keep transit systems from deteriorating, with a growing backlog of maintenance and upgrades of around $2.5 Billion a year. The ASE has a good post on common myths about the Federal Transportation Program, that counter many of the reasons the politicians use to excuse their inaction and avoid raising the gas tax, which even Ronald Reagan called a justified “user fee.”
While the Interstate Highway System, launched by President Dwight Eisenhower (R) in 1956, created problems for urban areas, its tremendous impact through easing commerce and facilitating mobility between cities and the countryside was a key part of the economic boom of the 60s-90s. That kind of national leadership has disappeared. And consider a gas tax hike to cover the $100 Billion shortfall? Not even on the table.