Playing With Politics

A Blog on Law, Politics, Planning, Development, and Other Vices

Archive for November, 2011

Roads Aren’t Free [Updated]

Posted by Roobs on November 29, 2011

It’s high time we explore the dubious nature of how exactly we pay to both construct and maintain our beloved highways and their true costs.

[Updated: Following the release of the draft 2012 Business Plan for the California High-Speed Rail project, I have come back to this post to update the numbers.  The overall argument is still the same and very valid.]

Critics tend to fancy themselves experts in all things sociological and economic when it comes to high-speed rail in California.  They argue the technology will not work –people won’t ride it – and/or that it is simply too expensive of a project to undertake during this time of economic contraction and we simply shouldn’t build it to save the money.  However, as I pointed out in a recent post, the cost of NOT building the California High-Speed Rail Project has never been zero.  In fact, it would cost  $100 billion $170 billion to build new highways and air travel facilities to meet future transportation demand as opposed to the $45-$60 billion $98 billion for HSR.  Even with this fact critics point out that it’s also the operating costs, not just capital costs that make HSR too expensive to build.  But while critics spend their time attacking the cost and financing of HSR, they neglect to check the financing of their favorite alternative to HSR: roads.  It’s high time we explore the dubious nature of how exactly we pay to both construct and maintain our beloved roads and highways and their true costs.

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