transportation systems,” says Car and Driver.
(Photo © J. Maus)
Car and Driver Magazine, one of America’s most respected automobile enthusiast publications with a circulation of 1.3 million, published an investigative report in their July issue titled, The State of the Union’s Roads: What’s happening to our playground? The American highway is broken. And broke.
The report details the bleak financial picture that states find themselves in as Washington tries to figure out how to move our country’s transportation investments forward. It’s an engaging read and includes good context for the national transportation spending debate.
“… the America it [the Interstate Highway System] was built for no longer exists.”
While I was prepared for a screed about how “bike paths” and other silly things (sarcasm intended) were depleting the highway fund and taking away the precious “playground” of automobiles, I instead found that the car magazine I read as a boy and that has catered to car lovers for 50 years — came to the conclusion that perhaps simply building more roads and maintaining all existing ones is futile.
Check out this excerpt (emphasis mine):
The inevitable conclusion is that we cannot possibly build enough roads to satisfy demand, so we must consider alternative transportation systems.
The Interstate Highway System was built to get manufactured goods and agricultural products to market and to get long-range travelers from metropolis to metropolis. It fulfills these roles, but the America it was built for no longer exists. … With a vast majority of Americans living and working in urban areas, why not adjust [funding] formulas to account for the new population distribution?
… we need to take a hard look at what role highways should play and how they fit into the broader transportation network. Sprawling car-centric cities like Los Angeles, Phoenix, Salt Lake City, and Dallas are rushing to build new mass-transit systems—they have to; the roads they have cannot satisfy demand. So they must harmonize with other modes of transportation to reduce the stress on existing roadways as much as possible.
An expert with the Texas Transportation Institute had the last word:
…“We want to make sure we get the biggest bang for the buck. What kind of transportation investments allow us to do that, as opposed to just being able to sit there and say, ‘Well, we’ve got X dollars. Let’s go out and repave a bunch of roads.’ Well, we don’t have that luxury. We don’t have it in Texas, and I doubt if we have it in any state.”
This sounds to me like fresh thinking from a very unexpected place. The article also goes against the ideas in the U.S. House transportation proposal released by Rep. John Mica earlier this month. Most experts read Mica’s plan as an attempt to strip funding for everything but traditional highway projects.
One car magazine isn’t likely to influence the national debate; but it certainly shows that the unsustainable expense alone is proving enough for many people — including those far beyond active transportation advocacy circles — to question our auto-centric status quo.
Read the full article here.