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Road woes
Raleigh News & Obstructor ^ | December 5, 2008 | Editorial Staff

Posted on 12/05/2008 3:24:20 AM PST by NCDragon

Americans are driving our roads into the ground, and we can't find an easy fix. Highway maintenance lags far behind the need for it, while new roads (and transit options) linger in line for funding. Construction costs keep rising, but fuel tax revenue, which pays for most of the road work, is fading.

The result is transportation gridlock. The best way out is to break the fuel-tax deadlock.

Either we raise this tax -- which in the United States is low by industrialized-world standards -- or find another source of cash for building roads and transit.

First, consider the sorry state of fuel tax funds. The U.S. Department of Transportation says gasoline taxes paid into the federal highway trust fund have fallen by $3 billion so far in fiscal 2008. The federal gas tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. North Carolina adds roughly 30 cents to that. State fuel-tax revenue is down 11 percent, or $317 million, from the amount budgeted in July (those figures include revenue from what amounts to a tax on car sales, which as everyone knows are off).

Congress hasn't raised the 18-cent federal tax in 15 years. Over that span inflation has eroded the buying power of fuel tax revenue, and road construction costs have outpaced general inflation. North Carolina's state tax, which used to rise with wholesale fuel prices, was capped two years ago by legislative action following a populist-style anti-tax campaign.

(Excerpt) Read more at newsobserver.com ...


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Politics/Elections; US: North Carolina
KEYWORDS: dot; usdot
Whatever they choose to do, we're gonna pay more! They can't help themselves...in their minds the money, THEIR money... is out there just waiting to be plucked from our wallets.
1 posted on 12/05/2008 3:24:20 AM PST by NCDragon
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To: NCDragon

One huge expense is the environmental impact reports and the endless litigation around them all of which does nothing to improve our roads while consuming valuable resources.


2 posted on 12/05/2008 3:31:51 AM PST by DB
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To: NCDragon

Gov. W-Easley and soon Purdue need to leave the highway trust fund money alone and quit using it to pay off Dem. constituents.


3 posted on 12/05/2008 3:34:14 AM PST by GoDuke
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To: NCDragon

Gov. W-Easley and soon Purdue need to leave the highway trust fund money alone and quit using it to pay off Dem. constituents.


4 posted on 12/05/2008 3:37:17 AM PST by GoDuke
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To: NCDragon

FTA: “Congress hasn’t raised the 18-cent federal tax in 15 years.”

Well, for crying out loud, raise it! We can’t have this! We’ve got to raise taxes on a freaking regular schedule, none of this fifteen year neglect!

/bleeding sarcasm


5 posted on 12/05/2008 3:41:18 AM PST by Judith Anne
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To: NCDragon

Curiously absent, no mention of NAFTA - which eliminated what was left of tariffs on imports - that went, in practice, to maintain road funds.

Oh well. Look for our ‘leaders’ to sell the interstate system to Spain or something like that.


6 posted on 12/05/2008 3:55:07 AM PST by Freedom4US
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To: NCDragon

Taxes are high enough,
Its not the lack of dollars that were intended for use to maintain the roads.
Its that in the beginning when the roads were okay most State Government as Government always do could not leave the money destined for the roads alone. No they had to use it for various sundry other social issues and goverment programs to garner and keep votes. So after tyears and years of by-passing road repair when it could have been done on the cheap with money that was taxed for the purpose, we now have roads that basically need replaced with money we no longer have.
Bottom line. The State Government screwed up and no the citizens of those States get to be screwed over.


7 posted on 12/05/2008 4:10:21 AM PST by SECURE AMERICA (Coming to You From the Front Lines of Occupied America)
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To: NCDragon

Simple solution....so simple it is painful....repeal Bacon-Davis....


8 posted on 12/05/2008 4:12:53 AM PST by joe fonebone (The libtard votes in every election, regardless of the candidate.)
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To: NCDragon

This is crazy. What about all those tolls that we pay all over the country? Some of the toll roads that were started were to pay for the road or bridge and they have been paid for 100 times over. It is time to realign where the money goes from all the turnpikes, bridges, speeding tickets, gas tax, etc. Is anyone out there????


9 posted on 12/05/2008 4:15:12 AM PST by napscoordinator
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To: NCDragon

The “easy fix” was to stop the government from contracting out to companies that were steeped in government graft and made the roads out of substandard materials!


10 posted on 12/05/2008 4:34:30 AM PST by Mobile Vulgus
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To: NCDragon

Don’t forget that registration fees also help pay for roads at a state level. Your $39 bucks for a car is a drop in the bucket, but the average tractor trailer registration is 1500-2000 bucks a years. Further, I think the articles numbers are low from what I’ve seen. Federal tax is more like 40 cents...


11 posted on 12/05/2008 4:42:54 AM PST by Aut Pax Aut Bellum (Well, at least we'll probably get another holiday out of the deal.)
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To: NCDragon

Also don’t forget our political leaders’ love of bicycle paths and other non-transportation related efforts upon which transportation funds are used. Politicians don’t think they get enough glory by voting for mundane infrastructure maintenance. Get a bicycle path or a downtown pedestrian mall and then the (liberal) people will know what you have done.


12 posted on 12/05/2008 4:48:07 AM PST by sgtyork (The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom, courage. Thucydides)
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To: GoDuke

...and don’t forget the I-40 debacle.


13 posted on 12/05/2008 4:59:57 AM PST by Calm_Cool_and_Elected (So many books, so little time!)
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To: Aut Pax Aut Bellum

NC has one of the higher gas taxes in the country. We pay a yearly registration fee, inspection fee and personal property tax on the car.


14 posted on 12/05/2008 5:01:45 AM PST by Calm_Cool_and_Elected (So many books, so little time!)
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To: NCDragon
"Whatever they choose to do, we're gonna pay more!"

I've got no real problem with paying gas taxes that are ACTUALLY USED TO BUILD AND REPAIR ROADS, but I damned well object to the constant theft of highway trust fund money to pay for boondoggles like "light rail" and other "mass transit" BS. If the cities and states want "mass transit"---use buses.

15 posted on 12/05/2008 5:03:26 AM PST by Wonder Warthog ( The Hog of Steel)
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To: NCDragon

They need to go back to the old way (at least down here in the south) of making roads out of Concrete instead of asphalt. Highway 49 between US 61 (Coahoma County MS.) and the Mississippi River at Helena, AR. is concrete and was laid in 1959! There are countless other concrete roads down here that are traveled constantly (I-55) through north Mississippi that were laid down decades ago. They are not the smoothest but they now have machines that can Plain or Plane them down and smooth them out. Much better than lane closures and the money spent to repave every couple of years.


16 posted on 12/05/2008 6:00:10 AM PST by Married with Children
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To: NCDragon

One of the problems here in Texas, is they keep stealing gas tax money for the bottomless money pit of “education”.


17 posted on 12/05/2008 7:16:39 AM PST by zeugma (Will it be nukes or aliens? Time will tell.)
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To: NCDragon
Cool, let's prolong our recession with more taxes.

Or they could cut spending in other areas and re-allocate funds.
18 posted on 12/05/2008 7:18:45 AM PST by mysterio
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To: NCDragon; 100%FEDUP; 2ndMostConservativeBrdMember; ~Vor~; a4drvr; Adder; Aegedius; Afronaut; ...
The editors of the News & Observer think we ought to (surprise!) raise the gas tax.

The 21st Century panel deserves credit for trying, but it would probably be better to let the lid on the state gas tax expire (as it's scheduled to next year) and, if necessary, raise the tax. The feds could do the same.

The obvious alternatives -- toll roads, higher registration fees -- wouldn't be popular either. A one-time bond issue for roads and mass transit might pass, but construction needs are never-ending. Fuel taxes are essentially a user fee -- for the roads all of us use and for the modern transit options the future will demand.


I'd prefer we actually use the money set aside for transportation on transportation (the roads, to be more precise) and actually work on the roads that need to be worked on (like finishing and expanding the I-485 loop around Charlotte that sees daily traffic in the hundreds of thousands, instead of fast-tracking - or even building in the first place - a loop around Fayetteville that sees daily traffic in the thousands).

NC *Ping*

Please FRmail MitchellC if you want to be added to or removed from this North Carolina ping list.
19 posted on 12/05/2008 6:25:39 PM PST by MitchellC (RINO? GTHO.)
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To: MitchellC

We have plenty of revenue for the roads. The thugs in Raleigh just have to stop stealing it! Or the equivalent, spending it on bridges and roads that go nowhere except to a piece of woodland that just happens - who’da thunkit? - to belong to a State Senator who was just - coincidentally - planning to sell the timber off this year ...

Buncha creeps. The Russian Solution - tanks and rocket launchers - might work in Raleigh ...


20 posted on 12/05/2008 6:29:06 PM PST by Tax-chick ("Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance." ~Sam Brown)
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To: MitchellC

They haven’t finished 485 in Charlotte?

I moved to Charlotte in 1994 and they were building 485. I moved away in 2004 and it wasn’t finished.

Why must it take a generation to build a loop around the city? Here in Kansas, roads are built quickly.


21 posted on 12/05/2008 6:52:33 PM PST by Tai_Chung
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To: Tai_Chung

Because I_485 is in Charlotte and the politicians are in Raleigh.


22 posted on 12/05/2008 6:57:36 PM PST by csmusaret (I'd rather have a sister in a whorehouse than have a brother in the US Congress.)
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To: Wonder Warthog
"I've got no real problem with paying gas taxes that are ACTUALLY USED TO BUILD AND REPAIR ROADS, but I damned well object to the constant theft of highway trust fund money to pay for boondoggles like "light rail" and other "mass transit" BS. If the cities and states want "mass transit"---use buses."

Exactly....sounds like you're from the PacificNW. Don't worry all this will go away when O'bomber institutes WPA redux. WPA standing for We Piddle Around.
23 posted on 12/05/2008 7:06:17 PM PST by Electric Graffiti
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To: Tai_Chung
They haven’t finished 485 in Charlotte?

They won't even begin to build the last section of it until 2015, assuming one believes their current public estimate.

Why must it take a generation to build a loop around the city?

It's apparently more important to buy off certain constituencies with useless roads.

They first planned 485 back in the 70s.

The sadder thing is that those parts that have been long finished are inadequate because they didn't build enough lanes. The southern part of the loop, between Pineville and Matthews, is worthless during rush hour, except as a magnet to lure drivers who don't know better away from other roads. (Heh)

Sadder still is that this entire roads issue is a huge winner for Republicans - so much so that you could find posts on Kos and DU this year from Charlotteans saying they were actually contemplating voting for McCrory over the issue - but the state party is apparently too dumb or dead to take advantage of it.

24 posted on 12/05/2008 7:32:31 PM PST by MitchellC (RINO? GTHO.)
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To: NCDragon

Everybody knows you can tax your way to prosperity.


25 posted on 12/05/2008 8:42:25 PM PST by CriticalJ
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To: MitchellC

If they never build the Monroe bypass, that will be fine with me.


26 posted on 12/06/2008 4:55:05 AM PST by Tax-chick ("Never offend people with style when you can offend them with substance." ~Sam Brown)
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To: MitchellC

They ought to have enough roads by now. If they are really serious (harrumph) about mass transit, they would stop expanding these monstrosities.

I only use mass transit during the State Fair. For me, it’s most convenient to park at the Cary Soccer Park, and ride the bus to the Fairgrounds. Fair traffic makes this practical.

If it were this much of a pain in the a$$ to drive to work, then buses or light rail would be economically feasible.


27 posted on 12/06/2008 9:58:55 AM PST by wolfpat (Revolt, and re-establish the Constitution as the law of the land!)
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To: NCDragon

Consider I-40 for a few minutes.

South of Raleigh, we have just added in the new US-70 bypass, and on both sides of the road, expanded the road for approximately 2 miles. There is an area of about 2 miles from mile marker 306 to where the road widens out at 309, that is 2 lanes. Prior to 306 and after 308 (until about mm 310), it is at least 3 lanes. Every day, there is traffic congestion there, and instead of paving the extra two miles, they decided to just continue to create traffic headaches.

From the Wade Avenue split-off (mm 289), to US 1 (mm 293), I-40 is 2 lane. It goes from 4 lanes to 2 and then back to 3. Every day, they have this disaster of traffic there. Nobody thought, aparently, that traffic would come to a crawl.

From mile marker 279 to mile marker 263, they added in 16 miles of a third lane. It took nearly 5 years, and hundreds of millions of dollars. Granted, they added in extra lanes of some bridges, so that means it was going to take a while. (In Indianapolis, when I was there, they added extra lanes to the highway in months, not years, and it was a few million dollars, not hundreds of millions.) Now, to make it better, they realized they’d made mistakes (like being told by their general contractor that the concrete had ice crystals in it which would cause the road to buckle, and being told by DOT officials to go ahead and pour it anyway, they could clean it up later) and so, after they were done, they had to go back and retop nearly the entire project.

The state of NC is now announcing today that they’re laying off workers in their offices. Instead of firing the incompetent managers who make the horrible decisions, they let them keep going and have a corrupt environment continue and then complain that they’re falling short on their budget.


28 posted on 12/08/2008 6:13:38 AM PST by spacewarp (Gun control is a tight cluster grouping in the chest and one in the forehead.)
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To: csmusaret

They started I-540 in 1989 and we now have a total of 30 miles of the 72 mile project done, and the estimated costs are in the 20-30 billion range over the course of the project while the estimated completion date is now up to 2042.


29 posted on 12/08/2008 6:19:00 AM PST by spacewarp (Gun control is a tight cluster grouping in the chest and one in the forehead.)
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To: Tax-chick

218 between Mint Hill and Polkton is already a Monroe by-pass for many of us.


30 posted on 12/08/2008 6:19:53 AM PST by csmusaret (I'd rather have a sister in a whorehouse than have a brother in the US Congress.)
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To: csmusaret

True. However, it’s not an obvious route as a diversion for non-local through traffic currently using US74.


31 posted on 12/08/2008 6:38:13 AM PST by Tax-chick (All I want for Christmas is the giant plush microbes from ThinkGeek.com.)
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