Skip to Content
Streetsblog USA home
Streetsblog USA home
Log In
Streetsblog.net

The Destructive Allure of “Free Money” for Highways

In Patrick Kennedy's campaign to tear down Interstate 345 in Dallas -- a vision he calls anewdallas -- he's running up against the "free money" argument. Since Texas DOT is willing to spend $100 million to rehab the road, the thinking goes, why not let them do it?

Dallas. Photo: anewdallas
Dallas. Photo: anewdallas
false

Here's why that whole line of thought just doesn't stand up, Kennedy writes at WalkableDFW:

The cost of the proposed 345 repair is $100 million for 20 years to keep the thing standing, that nobody wants, from 2020 to 2040. Yay? Some believe if that $100 million is there we should take it. Because why not? Free money.

Well, free money is also what tore apart the functionality and desirability of our core cities by the way of an interstate system never intended to cut through existing neighborhoods. The long-term cost of doing so, while it added to meaningless statistics such as GDP, is virtually incalculable. How would you even calculate replacing an entire city with an entirely new and less sustainable and maintainable city?

Now, let's get back to that $100 million. If we were to take the $100 million what is our return on that investment? Preventing catastrophe. That is it.

On the other hand, removing the road also prevents catastrophe. It also prevents us from facing the exact same scenario in twenty years.

On top of that it immediately opens 65 acres of public right-of-way underneath an antiquated failing structure for private investment for public good and private gain. Remember, developers are our city builders. We just have to set up a system where they're delivering the kind of neighborhoods and city we want, in a way they can make profit. Right now, that is not possible with the highways subsidizing the exportation of jobs and tax base further afield.

Elsewhere on the Network today: Joe Urban offers some suggestions for how sustainable transportation could become more ingrained at City Hall in Minneapolis. CincyMap looks at the relationship between transit fares and ridership in Cincinnati. And PubliCola at SeattleMet explains the tactics of NIMBYs who've organized to fight against additional housing in the city.

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog USA

Tuesday’s Headlines Are Running Hard

More political news: Today's top stories delve into Kamala Harris' record on climate change and Republicans' plans for the Trump administration if he returns to power.

July 23, 2024

Disabled NYer’s are Victims of Gov. Hochul’s Congestion Pricing Pause

So many New Yorkers can’t use the closest subway station to their homes because they don't have an elevator. And Gov. Hochul just halted funding for 23 new lifts.

July 23, 2024

State DOTs Could Fuel a Resurgence in Intercity Bus Travel

Private equity firms are killing off intercity bus companies. Will public agencies fill in the gaps?

July 23, 2024

GOP’s ‘Project 2025’ is ‘Based on a Lot of Ignorance’

What does Transportation for America's Beth Osborne think of the transportation portion of the Heritage Foundation's playbook for a Trump presidency?

July 23, 2024

What a Surprise! Hochul’s Congestion Pricing Pause Helps Rich Suburban Drivers

Gov. Hochul's "little guys" certainly have big wallets. Meanwhile, the rest of us suffer with declining subway service and buses that are slower than walking. Thanks, Kathy.

July 22, 2024
See all posts