Elected officials and transportation professionals generally agree on the nation's intensifying traffic congestion but are divided about how to address it.Yes, and the Homestead Act and mortgage interest deductions and elbow room are normal goods. And North Americans are still behaving as if they are prosperous, the best efforts of Democrats to the contrary notwithstanding.
The Obama administration leans heavily toward getting people out of their vehicles, a solution preferred by many urban planners. New highway lanes aren't enough, the theory goes, because they will simply attract drivers who had been taking other routes and encourage more sprawl. Soon congestion will be as bad as ever.
Census data on commuting show that between 1980 and 2013, the proportion of workers driving alone to work increased from 64% to 77%. Carpooling dropped from 20% of trips to 10%, and public transit declined slightly from 6% of trips to 5%. Nearly all the growth in commuting traffic can be attributed to the growth in commutes by private vehicle.The problem, as the article goes on to explain, is that such government spending implies government taxation, and voters are reluctant to raise local taxes, let alone authorize changes to the excise taxes that allegedly pay for the highways. (And let's not get into the tax preferences granted to congestion-generating businesses such as sports teams or retailers.)
According to a new poll by the Associated Press-GfK, a slight majority of Americans still prefer living in a single-family house in the suburbs or a rural area with more land, even if it means driving long distances to get to work or run errands.
The share of Americans who prefer suburban or rural living — 53% — is identical to the share who say the government should increase spending to build and improve roads, bridges and interstate highways.
Meanwhile, a Texas entrepreneur continues to hope to build, with investor money, a high-speed railroad linking Houston and Dallas.
There is no discussion, in the article or in accompanying comments, of whether this railroad will be built with sufficient clearance for auto-racks and double-stacks. Unless this railroad generates enough traffic for Shinkansen-like headways at all hours of the day, there will be capacity for time-sensitive freight traffic. And there's plenty of room for improvement of the passenger rail services in Texas.