Streetfacts: Roads Are a Money Losing Proposition

The majority of the roads and highways built in America are simply bad investments. Continuing this pattern will only ensure that wasteful projects consume larger chunks of our federal, state, and local budgets, without addressing the real need for transportation options.

This Streetfacts chapter has a bit more math than usual, but we think we’ve made an entertaining and accessible profile of how government agencies routinely justify unnecessary road projects. The example we’ve chosen to illustrate the problem is a federally-funded “diamond-deverter” interchange in Colorado. The project as proposed may look like a pretty good deal for taxpayers at first, but after crunching the numbers, you’ll see that’s not the case at all.

Much of the inspiration for this piece comes from the outstanding work of Strong Towns, an organization that emphasizes obtaining a higher return on infrastructure investments. Strong Towns Executive Director Charles Marohn, Jr. has been getting his message out through what he calls curbside chats, and we’ll soon be debuting a Streetfilm that features his work.

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Welcome to the first of five shorts we’re calling Streetfacts. With Streetfacts, we’ll be highlighting developing trends affecting transportation and planning policy, as well as addressing the cost of “bad practices” that prevent us from shifting to a more balanced transportation network that supports more livable places. As Streetfilms viewers know, many of the big […]

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We continue our Streetfacts series by looking at the data on driving in the U.S. Per-capita driving has declined every year since 2005. That’s not a blip, it’s now an 8-year trend. The reason? Neither the state of the economy nor changes in gas prices offer a satisfactory explanation. Social preferences and demographic shifts seem to […]

The Dirty Secret of Coal Ash: It’s in Our Roads

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Watch CBS News Videos Online Last night’s 60 Minutes featured an eye-opening report (viewable above) on the 130 million tons of coal ash waste generated every year by the nation’s thirst for energy. The show outlined the lack of oversight over disposal of the toxic ash, which is routinely used in the most commonplace of […]

Feeding the Beast: The Backdoor Ways Transit Subsidizes Roads

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We’ve done our share of commentary on this blog about how transit is underfunded in the first place. So it’s all the more upsetting to see highway projects pick the pocket of transit agencies. But that’s exactly what’s happening, in different forms, in different places throughout the country, writes Alon Levy at Pedestrian Observations. Levy […]