Got Traffic? Washington’s Not the Answer
Heritage Action has been a frequent critic of Washington’s all-too-frequent desire to centralize control, especially when it comes to transportation. Rather than pursuing more funding gimmicks, such as a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax, Heritage explains Congress should “‘turn back’ the federal highway program to the states, where it once belonged.”
Over at National Journal, transportation correspondent Fawn Johnson seems to embrace that argument:
The federal government has failed miserably at keeping a steady stream of reliable funding headed to the states for roads. It’s time for Washington to get out of the game. In the past year, lawmakers couldn’t even put together a whole highway bill, barely cobbling together enough money to cover two years when past measures have spanned five to six years.
Some options to reduce traffic are costly, but others can be implemented with a can of paint. New York City has seen its automobile traffic thin with an increased emphasis on pedestrian and bike paths. Car-culture areas such as Los Angeles and Northern Virginia are experimenting with variable-priced tolls that guarantee drivers a certain speed. The price goes up when congestion gets worse.
The common thread is that decisions are made on a local level. In Denver, city planners went to neighborhood representatives to divvy up their streets into parking areas, bike lanes, mixed-use lanes, and green medians. Residents and business owners did the prioritizing. City officials simply followed their directions. “Local government has to make the choices,” says Gideon Berger, an urban planner who headed the Denver project. “Local government has citation and permitting authority. The role of the private sector is so important.”
But drivers, local businesses, and local governments are in a far better position than the feds to determine how to get there—and how much travelers should pay for the ride.
Some prominent politicians claim highways are a core federal responsibility, but as Heritage explains, federal highway program was “created to build the interstate highway system—a goal that was met in the early 1980s.” Something needs to change, and more and more people in Washington are waking up.