Freeway isn't free; we have to pay somehow

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  • Concerned
    Sept. 8, 2008 10:33 a.m.

    Once again the "solution" is to come up with a proposal that taxes those who can least affect the congestion issue. Workers whose employers require 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. shifts have no choice but drive during the peak or congested times. I don't like taxes or tax increases but in this instance, you have lawmakers who have avoided the need to have incrementally increased the gas tax over the past decade. Now that we are in a crisis, their lack of courage would result in a signficant gas tax increase to address their neglect. Either face up to the reality of increasing the gas tax, or base a tax on mileage not congestion. For those in rural Utah a formula could be developed to allow for the added miles they are forced to drive. Of course it would be too much to ask Utah businesses to begin to stagger starting times and spread out the traffic.

  • Tony McGuire
    Sept. 8, 2008 8:47 a.m.

    Don't bother to build roads to the levels they will be needed.

    After all, they can become cash cows once traffic levels surpass your ability to *guess at* when creating them.

  • Jeff Alexander
    Sept. 8, 2008 8:41 a.m.

    Thanks to Jay Evenson for keeping this subject in front of the public. As much as some of our citizens want to complain about building roads we still need roads. The gas tax isn't the solution. We can keep raising the tax, but with more fuel efficient cars we are getting less money per mile driven. We all need to step up and help find the solution to our transportation issue. As long as the Wasatch Front continues to grow there will be a transportation problem.

  • The Downtown FREE way.
    Sept. 8, 2008 7:26 a.m.

    What Mr. Evenson misses by a mile, is the fact that the only people getting a free ride on publicly financed transportation projects are riding on massively subsidized UTA TRAX and FrontRunner trains and buses.

    RIDE UTA for FREE!

    Get government or local businesss or colleges or even the LDS Church to pony up the money for most people in the CBD and at the U of U to have free or nearly free passes.

    The FREE way is the UTA way.

    What an economic lie!

    Deseret News reporters and managers and etc. are totally caught up in this nonsense that what is good for them is good, or possible, for the rest of northern Uath.

    Greg Kratz had another transit fluff-piece in Sundays paper. To parody the movie reviewers, "It is a heartwarming coming-of-age tale, about a early-middle aged Newspaper manager who finds his old flame, a '47 Studebaker, replaced in his heart by a 360,000-pound TRAX train."

    You will know when the vastly un-level playing field of bogus price supports for creaking-senile transit has been corrected, when you see UDOT handing out free tanks of gas for anyone who drives on Legacy

    Next ...A FREE LUNCH!

  • No tolls!
    Sept. 7, 2008 10:10 p.m.

    Tolls are just another way rich, out-of-touch politicians stick it to the poor.

    Whose taxes build these roads? Mine. And yours. Who are these politicians to make us pay to use the roads we built?

    Making me pay to use a road I built essentially denies me use of the road. Then who gets to use it? The Gov and his rich buddies.

    This country was opened up and made prosperous, at least in part, by public highways built at public expense and available to all. Toll roads are designed to reverse that and make travel so expensive, poorer people will agree to be penned up in crowded tenements in big cities.

  • Limit total tolls
    Sept. 7, 2008 7:09 p.m.

    I believe that toll roads can contribute greatly to transportation needs if handled properly.
    The critical requirement in building toll roads must be that when enough toll funds have been collected to pay for building costs, the toll must be stopped, and gas taxes applied for maintenance.
    The major problem is that all organizations involved in managing toll roads and all involved political entities are extremely reluctant to give up the cash cow and all of the supporting jobs.

  • Michael T. Packard BSEE
    Sept. 7, 2008 3:39 p.m.

    I need to revise one sentence of my previous comment.

    Cars and trucks, driving on miserable dirtpaths and dirt streets were kicking the crap our of our great old electric rail paradigms, even before the depression. In 1928 only 10% of Salt Lake's streets were paved.

    I love those old electric rail ventures. My great grandfather and two great granduncles built the first and the last of Salt Lake's street car routes.

    These trains were the transportation-bridge between the horse and buggy era and the car era. They used the technology of their times.

    But, trains have been outdated by a century of progress.

    There is a mile-wide cornucopia of new technology, made possible by computer and micro-electronic- miracle technologies, that is bringing about the perfection of the car-higway paradigm.

    We can work through the huge problems of declining oil to a robust future that still includes cars or we can let the carking, sniveling, grasping/greedy, car-hating leftists among us bring down the finest transportation systems in history and bring America down to second world status and coresponding low standard of living.

    Come back to the amazing, high tech, present.

  • Mike Richards
    Sept. 7, 2008 3:30 p.m.

    Those who have advocated an audit have my vote. Let those in Government who have mismanaged taxes and fees face the citizens they have fleeced year after year after year.

    Although I agree with what Jay Evensen wrote, he didn't fully explain whether the proposed road was part of the Federal Freeway program or whether it was a State/County road. It would be informative to know what government entities are involved and at what percentage per entity. It would also be interesting to know how the road compares to other similar roads when all factors are added in, such as lighting, noise suppression, etc. In other words, are there any "special interests" who demand that that their "special needs" be met before they allow the road to be built?

    As someone who grew up in a town that had dirt roads, I know how we planned all activities around the weather; so, I appreciate good roads and I am willing to pay my part - but not through a toll. If we all pay for the construction, we all should have un-tolled access to the road.

  • Michael T. Packard
    Sept. 7, 2008 3:23 p.m.

    Jeppson, your "history" is biased and flawed.

    Our fine electric interurban network was invented in 1896 by Frank J. Sprague on the Southside-Chicago-El.
    Interurbans and trolleys were mostly privately built.

    But, because of unrelenting competition from cars and truck on highways, it gradually declined leading up to WWII. The war gave it a huge shot in the arm. But, it declined afterward.

    Taxes paid by car users have paid all costs of freeways. Who else pays taxes?

    In the last 40 years, Congress has diverted hundreds of billions of Car-user taxes to other uses. They also diverted over half a trillion dolars to transit. Transit has continued to decline.

    If our share of that money had been used for local freeways, there would be few major freeway problems in Utah.

    Transit market share nationally,and here in Utah, is around 1% --(except in five biggest cities).

    Modeling in our long range plans predict UTA's share of trips carried to explode clear up to 2.3% by 2030.

    UTA is geting $20 billion to expand their share by 1%!

    UDOT is underfunded by $16.5 billion. If we gave $16.5 billion less to the Magnificent Con-Artists at UTA, we would have our freeways.

  • Zadruga Guy
    Sept. 7, 2008 2:56 p.m.

    The present gas tax already has "congestion pricing" built into it. Driving during congested periods means you use more gallons of gas to go between X and Y than you would when traffic is free flowing. Since you use more gas, you pay more in gas taxes. Furthermore, since it takes you longer to get from X to Y when roads are congested, you loose the value of the incremental time you used by driving during the congested period versus driving when traffic is free flowing. Thus, I am in favor of raising the gas tax to whatever extent is necessary to properly fund our highway and mass transit systems.

  • Stewart
    Sept. 7, 2008 1:51 p.m.

    A gasoline/diesel fuel tax increase only makes sense at the present time. Big trucks and large personal vehicles cause as much or more need for highways than the smaller fuel efficient vehicles. A 5 cent fuel tax increase would seem to be the best solution. When fuel was $4 per gallon that would only be a 1.25% increase since 1997. That is tiny compared to the cost increases of everything else. A truck or any large vehicle would pay the same toll as a motorcycle.

    Tolls would eventually be required for maintenance of all roads, because in the next decade most personal vehicles will run on CNG(compressed natural gas) electricity as in plug-in hybrids or other untaxed fuel sources. These vehicles will require very little if any gasoline or diesel.

    There are better ways to tax these vehicles other than a fuel or toll road. They could be taxed by the miles driven, the weight of the vehicle, and the area in which it was driven.

    I don't have enough space here to explain, but with technology now available this would be no problem for new automobiles that use little or no gasoline or diesel.

  • Toll roads waste more oil
    Sept. 7, 2008 12:04 p.m.

    Toll roads would make it cheaper to have gas hogs. Increasing the gasoline tax, makes it cheaper to buy more fuel efficient vehicles.

    I for one hate the idea of having toll roads criss crossing the state.

    I like the way I grew up. No toll roads.

  • Think, then write
    Sept. 7, 2008 11:52 a.m.

    Himself | 8:37 a.m. Sept. 7, 2008
    It's not that toll roads are a bad idea, it's that
    new highways are a bad idea. A thing of the past.

    Highways are not built with the hopes that people will travel them once they are built, they are built because there is already a need.

    If you think highways are a bad idea you are free to not travel them. That is your decision. I will choose to be free to go where I want, that is my decision.

  • MetricWrench
    Sept. 7, 2008 11:05 a.m.

    "Cut the Pork" is exactly right. Government is always sloppy with money. Money could be found in all sort of places if any of the politicians cared enough to find and exercise the discipline necessary to use it properly.

  • No Toll Roads
    Sept. 7, 2008 10:18 a.m.

    I would much rather pay a higher gas tax if necessary than have toll roads.

    Advocates say that toll roads would cut down on disgressionary driving during peak times, this logic is flawed. During peak times is when people get off and go to work, this isn't disgressionary driving. People who drive with disgression, already avoid these times.

    I hate the idea of toll roads all around the state.

  • Himself
    Sept. 7, 2008 8:37 a.m.

    It's not that toll roads are a bad idea, it's that
    new highways are a bad idea. A thing of the past.

  • liberal Larry
    Sept. 7, 2008 6:57 a.m.

    Toll roads are the way to go. A sales tax is just a form of the dreaded socialism. I hope all of the "free market" advocates will post and support the idea of a toll on new highway construction.

  • Enter nameCut the Pork
    Sept. 7, 2008 5:10 a.m.

    The public has already paid for freeways with their tax dollars-both Federal & State. I'll bet if an external audit was done, there would be enough waste, corruption & crappy construction (read re-do's) & overall sloppy business practices, that if eliminated, could fund a freeway from Utah to New York.

  • Lew Jeppson
    Sept. 7, 2008 1:11 a.m.

    A little history is illuminating. Following WW II the United States still had a network of private electric interurban railways which were highly efficient and self supporting (because these carriers were also freight carriers and freight often cross-subsidized passenger). Then we made the political decision to build roads like crazy. This destroyed the interurban railway networks. We are now rebuilding them or equivalents, at great cost and with tax dollars. Now economics is catching up with roads, and as we know in economics, somebody always has to pay. This is not going to be pretty. The presumed free ride on the freeway is over.