Transportation? Ho, Hum. People Are Just As Riled by Illegal Immigration.


disconnect between the general public and the special interests pressing for taxes for transportation (the Axis of Taxes) seems to widen with each passing day. As the General Assembly gears up for a special session to address transportation funding, according to the latest Commonwealth Poll, transportation ranks only fourth among the topics that the state should make “a top priority.”

Here’s how the issues compared:

Public schools (67 percent of respondents listed as “a top priority”)
Job situation (54 percent)
Environment (49 percent)
Transportation (46 percent)
Illegal immigration (45 percent)
Mental health services (37 percent)

The breakdown did vary by geography. Fifty-nine percent of Northern Virginians rated transportation a top priority, but the figure in Hampton Roads — where the Axis of Taxes is determined to raise billions in regional revenues for regional bridge and highway projects — rated only 43 percent.

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  1. Anonymous Avatar

    Forgive me if this posts twice…

    You and others are misreading that. Transportation, environmental concerns and illegal immigration all ranked virtually the same. Considering that respondents clearly could list more than one “top priority,” the fact that close to half listed transportation up there is significant. You have to assume that the intensity waxes and wanes in some regions and even within those regions (whereas concern over education is statewide). I see that as a pretty good sign that doing nothing is a risky political strategy.

  2. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    explain this:

    Is Transportation a Top Priority?
    Should improving transportation be a top priority,


    top imp but not top
    43% 44%

    Would you say that you generally support increased funding for transportation improvements in Hampton Roads

    Support – 67%

    Tell me whether you strongly agreeto fund transportation improvements in Hampton Roads

    An increase in the statewide sales tax – 16%

    An increase in the statewide gas tax – 14%

    A new regional sales tax just in the Hampton Roads area – 6%

    A new regional gas tax just in the Hampton Roads areas – 4%

    If you are an elected official – what is your “take away” from the above numbers?

  3. Anonymous Avatar

    Larry – the takeaway for elected officials is the same as always — the real estate crowd wants higher taxes on everyone so that they can continue to open more areas to development and build out and up!

    I suspect that a fair poll would indicate that most Virginians, regardless of their political preferences would support an adequate public facilities law. And, of course, the WaPo’s editorial staff support higher taxes, just because they’d be higher!

    Tim Kaine first raised the connection between land use and transportation, but largely backed down in the face of real estate and chamber of commerce opposition. Let’s hope the next governor goes the full distance.


  4. Anonymous Avatar

    Looks like that simplified form I think we should put on the back of the tax form.

    Now, how does what the poll say people want comapere to what’s in the budget, and why?

    I doubt if most people even know what APF is, let alone support it. As Larry say’s there are a lot of clueless people out there. So, as soon as someone says something like “most people would want….”
    my BS alarm goes off, and then if I can mollify that and conclude that most people would want (free beer), then I can be pretty sure it is a dumbed down idea in order to have such appeal.


  5. Anonymous Avatar

    In the debate over global climate change, there is a yawning gap that needs to be bridged. The gap is not between environmentalists and industrialists, or between Democrats and Republicans. It is between policy wonks and political consultants.

    Among policy wonks like me, there is a broad consensus. The scientists tell us that world temperatures are rising because humans are emitting carbon into the atmosphere. Basic economics tells us that when you tax something, you normally get less of it. So if we want to reduce global emissions of carbon, we need a global carbon tax. Q.E.D.


    Those vying for elected office, however, are reluctant to sign on to this agenda. Their political consultants are no fans of taxes, Pigovian or otherwise. Republican consultants advise using the word “tax” only if followed immediately by the word “cut.” Democratic consultants recommend the word “tax” be followed by “on the rich.”

    N. Gregory Mankiw, The New York Times

    If you are an elected official, the effects of global warming are probably outside your event horizon.


  6. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    I don’t think people are clueless about most of the major issues but most of us ARE clueless about many of the specific things that are in the budget line items and a check-off form without folks knowing what they are checking-off (or defunding) is dumb.

    Here’s what I would support.

    If a person knew all of the folks who represented him/her – from the Gov to the two Senators, his congressman, his delegate and State Senator and local BOS, and could successfully identify the major funding categories by dollars and percentages, then I would support such a check-off ..ONLY for the folks that showed they actually knew what they were voting on.

    What the VCU and Christopher Newport Polls show – along these lines – is that many people still believe that somehow the state funds transportation without taxing them…directly….

    that the money must come from somewhere else…in the budget

    How else can one explain that 67% support increased funding but less than a third choose the tax they prefer to pay to fund transportation?

    The other thing missing from this and other polls is how much.

    I wonder how many folks ask the pollster on the “do you favor a gas tax increase” … “how much”?

    I think it would be very interesting to know how much of an increase folks would support.

    Any poll.. whether it be the check-off kind that RH suggests or referenda or whatever – they need to give the respondent some context that informs both the respondent and the folks who read the polls.

  7. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    “Republican legislators pressed Virginia’s transportation secretary Wednesday on why Gov. Timothy M. Kaine’s transportation funding proposal does not include more use of public-private partnerships.”


    “Del. Chris Saxman, R-Staunton, asked Transportation Secretary Pierce Homer how Kaine’s plan could be modified to seek more private money. The commission’s chairman, Republican Del. Joe May, also suggested “it’s appropriate to say a certain amount will come from the state and a certain amount from private entities.”

    Homer said private partners need to know that the state will hold up its end of any financial deals. He noted that several current public-private projects, such as toll roads, will continue to move forward.

    Kaine spokesman Gordon Hickey said a telephone interview that public-private partnerships “could be part of the mix, but not the totality.” Kaine’s proposal is on the table, and he is willing to listen if legislators have ideas they believe would improve it, Hickey said.

    “Anything other than just saying ‘No deal,’” he said.”

  8. Groveton Avatar

    Tidewater is the region that gives Virginia the lowest ratings for quality of life (Excellent + Good). They are also the region that has the best understanding of the workings of the General Assembly (A lot + some).

    I am with them. The more you know of those stink-hounds the less you think living in Virginia is wonderful.

  9. Groveton Avatar

    Also – don’t the significant regional differences make you wonder about the continuance of a strict adherence to Dillon’s Rule?

  10. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    more poll data on the publics (North Carolina) attitude about transportation, taxes and tolls:

    Would you support a two cent increase to the state’s
    gas tax if all of revenue is spent on repairing sub-standard roads and bridges, or are you opposed to raising the gas tax for this goal?

    15% Support
    85% Oppose

    Would you support a five cent increase to the state’s
    gas tax ?

    9% Support
    91% Oppose

    Would you
    support or oppose creating toll roads if this allowed the state to more quickly
    expand and build new highways?

    3% Strongly Support
    32% Support

    41% Oppose
    23% Strongly Oppose

  11. Groveton Avatar

    Would you agree to paying $5 each way to drive during rush hour after the state sells the previously public road to a private company?

    Now, ask that question an tell me what the polls say.

  12. Anonymous Avatar

    “most of us ARE clueless about many of the specific things that are in the budget line items and a check-off form without folks knowing what they are checking-off (or defunding) is dumb.”

    I’m not sure I understand your point. The list above is very broad and generalized, so it would be hard to get information except in a very general way. You couldn’t know with this leist, specifically, what you are supporting. But at this level it still givels legislators broad latitude to dissemble.

    A list that is too detailed would have the opposite problems.

    And, you can bet there would be considrable politicl maneuvering over the wording of the list.

    I still think that averwaged over every tax form submitted (form is not complete without it), you would have a far better idea of what people say they want than some special interest poll.

    Whether the people actually know anything about what they say they want, is a separate issue entirely.

    Otherwise, we could just have a system where only the aristocracy have a say, by virtue of property ownership, education, and prior residency.

    Oops, that’s what Groveton says we have now. it’s what proffers and APF are supposed to help engender.

    Oh well.


  13. Anonymous Avatar

    “The other thing missing from this and other polls is how much.”

    That’s the beauty of my tax form poll. You put the numbers down so that they add up the the amount you paid. End of story.


  14. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: would you pay

    interestingly enough, 1100 people a day are willing to pay up to 3.25 to go 10 miles on a road where they save 13 minutes over non-tolled lanes.

    see the advantage of this – is that your vote only applies to you and you only get charged if you agree whereas with RH’s confiscatory approach you take money from everyone whether they want to pay for better service or not.

    Groveton – how would you like it the next time you buy an airline ticket if it costs a lot more and there is a new charge on it that says “free air travel for all” fee?

    careful with your answer…

  15. Anonymous Avatar

    Groveton is right, as usual.

    Open ended poll questions that don’t require the user to choose alternatives are meaningless.

    Even Groveton’s example allows for too much misunderstanding. this is what I mean about political wrangling over wording. To determine if people really prefer tolls over taxes you should ask this:

    Would you prefer to pay an additional gas tax that that costs an average vehicle 5 cents per mile or an additional toll that costs every vehicle 5 cents per mile?

    Then you discriminate on whether they prefer tolls or not, absent any other issues. What’s hidden in this question is that it means a 20 mile toll would be only a dollar, not $5. But a 5 cents per mile gas tax is really $1.25 per gallon.

    If you ask another question:

    Would you prefer for everyone to pay an additional gas tax that that costs an average vehicle 5 cents per mile or would you prefer to have only some people pay an additional toll costs every vehicle on some routes (preferably in NOVA) 25 cents per mile?

    Then you might get different answers.

    Being concise, explicit, and direct isn’t that hard; it just requires honesty and some political backbone.


  16. Anonymous Avatar

    “1100 people a day are willing to pay up to 3.25 to go 10 miles on a road where they save 13 minutes over non-tolled lanes.”


    How many are on the nontolled lanes who are not willing to pay that exhorbitant price?

    How do we know that they are not willing to pay for better service, just not that much?

    You want to take a vote on that, based on the number who are apparently willing to pay, versus those that are apparently not??

    You want an honest poll?


  17. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    It IS an honest poll.

    They DID vote.

    They know the price and they can decide to pay or not.

    It’s no different than buying a Prius or a gallon of gas or milk.

    if you know the price and you can decide to buy or not – do you not consider that the ultimate poll/vote?

  18. Anonymous Avatar

    You want an honest poll?

    Being concise, explicit, and direct isn’t that hard; it just requires honesty and some political backbone.

    It also helps if you actually want to know what the answer is, as opposed to dictate it. If you already have an answer, then it’s not too hard to find some data to support it, especially if you beg the questions.


  19. Anonymous Avatar

    They DID vote.

    But you didn’t tell us how many voted no.

    You just said how many voted yes, and declared that as a win.

    If I was selling gallons of milk and 99% of the people wouldn’t buy it because of the price, then I’d find a way to sell quarts or pints.

    If I sell 1100 gallons of milk and 80,000 walk past the display without buying, I’d have to ask whether I, and the people who want some milk, wouldn’t be better off if I sold 25,000 pints of milk instead.

    It is the government’s job to make that kind of decision with public resources: the best decision for the most people. If they abdicate that decision, and turn it over to some cherry picker who only wants to sell gallons, and only to the few that can afford a gallon, then the government is not doing its job.

    Keep it up, Larry, you work at this long enough and you will unsell the toll fiasco, singlehanded.


  20. Anonymous Avatar

    The problem with the original poll was there was no option for this

    Reduce government spending in other areas and earmark it for transportation

    If the Republicans would actually say that I think we would have a winner

    I know personally thats what I support instead of more taxes

    Of coures the sticky issue is the specifics. What are you going to cut and by how much.


  21. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Let’s face it, almost all public opinion polls are superficial, offering broad policy options that mean different things to different people. That’s especially true when polls ask people about transportation, and even when the questions tighten the focus to tolls.

    Larry is right, though, that poll after poll shows the public to express preference for tolls over taxes. The pattern is too consistent to deny. The trick is to plumb deeper and find out what kind of tolls, and under what circumstances.

    I would predict a wide variation in sentiment depending upon specific circumstances. Most people would be OK with tolls that pay for infrastructure that did not exist before. Conversely, most people would oppose tolls on facilities (like the Dulles Toll Road) where they’d been promised that the tolls would come off after the bonds were paid off — and oppose them even more so if the toll proceeds were diverted to benefit others.

    The unifying principle behind politically palatable tolls, I would suggest, is that people are generally more comfortable with tolls that approximate user fees, and they are opposed to tolls that represent transfers of wealth.

    Thus, the idea circulating in some Republican circles of privatizing a highway, imposing (or raising) tolls, and using the proceeds to pay for projects elsewhere would prove to be highly unpopular — especially among the motorists who were getting hosed. And rightly so: Such a proposal violates all canons of fairness.

    To advance the debate, Republicans need to get beyond spouting generalities about “privatizing” and “tolls” and provide specifics. Which roads would they privatize? What benefit would the users of those roads receive? Where would the proceeds be reinvested?

    Voters would accept new or higher tolls if they are assured that the proceeds will be used to improve mobility within the affected corridor or cordoned area.

  22. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    Indeed – a majority of folks are opposed to tolls also in most polls.

    In fact, there is no category of “how do you want to pay more” that gets a majority.

    the way that tolls are working out is not the way that many will like if the Dulles Toll Road is an example but also the way that Maryland will subsidize the ICC with tolls from other roads – and which, by the way, is the way that VDOT has implied would be the way that a US 460 toll road would function.

    So, I do not think they are without problems… serious problems but even though the polls are superficial, the one thing that comes across over and over and loud and clear is just how little support there is for an increase in the gas tax – and in the case of the NC POll, the question was phrased to say that the tax increase would be used to repair bridges and unsafe roads.

    The NC Poll was consistent with the Christopher Newport Poll on the gas tax question.

    The NC Poll put numbers on the tax and when the question went from 2 cents to 5 cents the “yes” answers dropped from 15% to 9%.

    that’s ..not.. a superficial drop IMHO.

    One could reasonably expect that if the question was for a dime that the percentage would drop to 5% or less.

    Okay… so my point is that there is substantial and significant opposition to the gas tax – to the point where there is precious little support JUST for enough money to stem the deficit in the maintenance funding.. and the Carolina Poll specifically focused on maintenance and the public still said no.

    So.. I’m not saying that tolls are “better” than the gas tax per se.

    What I’m saying is that from a political perspective – the numbers about the gas tax are – clear.

    We have folks who apparently think that our elected should force tax increases on people… to demonstrate that they have the “spine” to do what is right.

    Like.. they all vote for the gas tax increase..then get voted out of office.. and hope that the newly elected don’t go back and undo the tax increase…

    …even though we’ve already seen a similar situation with the abuser fees…

  23. Groveton Avatar

    “Groveton – how would you like it the next time you buy an airline ticket if it costs a lot more and there is a new charge on it that says “free air travel for all” fee?”.

    Kind of a recursive question. If air travel is “free for all” why would I be BUYING an airline ticket at all?

  24. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross


    “who wants to pay a toll for roads that are already free”?

    roads were never “free” – not when we are all paying significant taxes and fees ostensibly to keep them “free” of tolls….

    Bob has made an important contribution towards a better understanding of this fact.. by pointing out all the other ways beyond the gas tax that we pay for “free roads”.

    We have an opportunity at this juncture where we have, once gain, run out of funding for “free roads” and at this point, we can ask:

    “Do we want to continue to pay higher and higher taxes to keep roads “free” or would we like to decide on a per use basis how much more we wish to pay for?”

    I would posit – that what the polls show is that people don’t want to pay higher taxes to keep roads “free” …and that some folks… do know that roads are never completely paid for anyhow.

    Bob had done a simplistic calculation earlier dividing the number of lane miles by the maintenance money and came up with about $12000.00 per lane mile.

    That does not sound at all “free” to me….

    You and I pay about 300-400 bucks a year in gas taxes… at that rate, it would take ten people paying gas tax to maintain one lane mile of road.

    that’s not even close to roads that we have ‘already paid for’.

  25. Groveton Avatar

    “You and I pay about 300-400 bucks a year in gas taxes… at that rate, it would take ten people paying gas tax to maintain one lane mile of road.”.

    And the right answer to this “problem” of inadequate gas taxes is:

    a) Raise the gas tax.
    b) Implement a complex, ill defined and largely unproven scheme to tax a tiny percentage of the drivers a huge amount by entering into a contract with private enterprise that can’t be unwound for 75 years.

  26. Anonymous Avatar

    Agree that gas tax is not popular, political suicide, non starter

    Voters have also already voted against the sales tax but now somehow Kaine thinks it is more popular today


  27. Groveton Avatar

    Does anybody understand this proposed legislation?

  28. Jim Bacon Avatar
    Jim Bacon

    Looks like they want to remove the tolls from the Coleman Bridge (which happens to be in Morgan’s district).

    Here’s what VDOT said in 2005 when the tolls were increased: “The toll rate is going up because the current rate is not bringing in enough revenues to meet the facility’s financial obligations. Toll revenues have been insufficient to pay for ordinary maintenance and bridge operations. Revenue shortfalls would total more than $10 million by fiscal year 2009 if no adjustments are made. The CTB has the legal responsibility to set toll rates so maintenance and operating expenses for the bridge are covered, as well as paying all debt obligations.”

    Gee, if they take off the tolls, where’s the money going to come from to maintain the bridge? Wink, wink. Nod, nod.

  29. Anonymous Avatar

    “In fact, there is no category of “how do you want to pay more” that gets a majority.”


    In the next five years you will pay $2500 more for the annual total of your average daily trip.

    Assume that providing we do not have a big collapse in the economy, that this statement is true, and unavoidable.

    Would you prefer to pay that money through a daily toll of $12.50 cents? This is equal to $0.3125 per mile for 40 miles or $7.81 dollars in gas tax for fuel used on that trip.

    Would you prefer to pay that money in pollution, wasted gas, and time while you sit in congestion an additional 20 minutes each way?

    Would you prefer to pay that amount in a gas tax equal to $0.125 cents per total mile traveled, for an average car? This is equal to a gas tax of $3.125 dollars per gallon at 25 mpg and 20,000 miles per year. You can reduce the amount you pay by driving a smaller car and/or driving less distance.

    Understand that you will pay, one way or another, you must make a choice.

    However, there is a fifty percent chance that if you elect either of the cash payment plans, that you will still incur an increase in pollution, congestion, and lost time.

    If you elect neither of the cash payment plans there is a 90% chance that you will have additional costs as well.


    Does that work for you?


  30. Anonymous Avatar

    almost all public opinion polls are superficial, and poll after poll shows the public to express preference for tolls over taxes.

    The trick is to plumb deeper and find out what kind of tolls, and under what circumstances.

    Nice one.

    The polls are superficial, but we have so many they must be partially true. So lets accept that they are entirely true and go find out which ones they like best.

    Or, we could go start over and do it right to begin with.


  31. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: “In the next five years you will pay $2500 more for the annual total of your average daily trip.”

    In fact – this statement and those that follow are a bunch of grade A hooey, no check that.. horse puckey

    You will not pay one red cent more if you do not want to.

    No one will force you to pay tolls just like 85% of the folks in Seattle choose to not pay tolls on their HOT lanes.

    You can continue to do what you always have done without paying a penny more.

    But your fellow voters via these Polls have sent a big message to YOU Ray and it goes like this:

    “you and the 5% who agree with you or outvoted by the rest of us who will not pay more than a few cents of higher gas taxes”.

    “if you want more infrastructure where you live, then pay for it with tolls”

    “if you don’t want to pay tolls -then fine – but keep your greedy little fingers off of my wallet”.


    of course, I admit to have taken some liberties in interpreting those polls.


  32. Anonymous Avatar

    “In fact – this statement and those that follow are a bunch of grade A hooey, no check that.. horse puckey

    You will not pay one red cent more if you do not want to. “

    If nobody pays, where does all the magic money come from?

    If one person pays, where does all the magic money come from?

    You think 1100 people are going to pay enough to reduce congestion for everyobody?

    If not, then everybody pays the congestion tax, same as before.

    The only way this works, is if exactly the right number of people are willing to pay an exhorbitant fee for their own personal congestion relief, that it takes wnough cars off the general purpose lanes so that they get relief.

    This is obviously a self defeating prophesy. The graeter the number of people who agree to pay, the less congestion on the general purpose lanes, and the less incentive to go pay.

    On the other hand, the less congestion on the general purpose lanes, the more incentive for someone else (who wouln’t travel otherwise) to get on the road. All you did was make room for latent traffic.

    In the end, there is no congestion relief, and no pollution relief, except for a wealthy and select few. As a result EVERYBODY will pay.

    Voters don’t send their message via polls, special interest groups do.

    When did anyone in NOVA get an explicit chance to VOTE themselves a toll road?


  33. Anonymous Avatar

    “it would take ten people paying gas tax to maintain one lane mile of road.”

    I think it works out to 120citizens for evey lane mile of state maintained road. There ought to be enough drivers in that group to make ten, I should think.

    “The 57,867-mile state-maintained system is divided into these categories:

    Interstate – 1,118 miles of four-to-ten lane highways that connect states and major cities.

    Primary – 8,111 miles of two-to-six-lane roads that connect cities and towns with each other and with interstates.

    Secondary – 48,305 miles of local connector or county roads. These generally are numbered 600 and above. Arlington and Henrico counties maintain their own county roads.

    Frontage – 333 miles of frontage roads.”

    7 million citizens.
    have I got this wrong somewhere?


    NOVA has 27% of the state maintaineed roads, but they apparently pay more than 40% of the funds.

    Larry is correct in saying NOVA roads are more expensive, but he is probably incorrect in thinking that ROVA pays for NOVA commuters bad habits. I see no reason to believe that a general gas tax is unfair, even if it is unpopular.

    There is no reason to believe that there the tollroads will reduce congestion: not veven in the tollroad corridors.

    There is no reason to think they will reduce traffic or pollution, because they will increase both.

    There is no reason to think the tollroads will produce mountains of free cash flow to the state.

    But there is every reason to believe the the tolls will be unfair AND unpopular, an not just with those paying the tolls. This is going to be a first order disaster that even non-payers will dislike. Lexus Lanes is jsut the beginning of the unprintable monikers to follow.

    “The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) is responsible for clearing snow and ice on more than 16,000 lane miles of state-maintained roads in Arlington, Fairfax, Prince William and Loudoun Counties.
    About 7,000 of those miles are
    interstate, primary and high volume
    secondary roads.”


  34. Anonymous Avatar

    This get’s better and better.

    Let’s see:

    The polls are superficial, but we have so many they must be partially true even though we know they don’t ask the right questions and ask misleading ones in order to get the right asnwers as defined by the special interests.

    So lets accept that they are entirely true and go find out which tolls people say they like best for other people to pay.

    And then, let’s conflate that into a statement by the voters that they will not pay a gas tax of more than a few cents.


    Let’s not kid ouselves, the toll roads are coming. What we should do now is get out front and agree on a set of indices by which we can later determine if they worked. (They won’t, not by any meaningful measure, but let’s see Larry stick hsi neck out and propose something that can be measured.)


    a) Raise the gas tax.
    b) Implement a complex, ill defined and largely unproven scheme to tax a tiny percentage of the drivers a huge amount by entering into a contract with private enterprise that can’t be unwound for 75 years.
    c)Wait for the economy to collapse so you don’t need the roads, or let the roads collapse and then the economy will.

    EMR is right. Fewer people consuming less stuff will solve a lot of problems. It will “save” a lot of money, too.


  35. Anonymous Avatar

    Mr. Bacon doesn’t seem to have caught on yet, that as soon as someone hires an illegal alien to
    do work, they have, effectively, awarded that person citizenship, if, for no other reason than by their own act of hypocrisy (i.e. “ok, I’ll give you work because I’m such a nice guy, not because I need you or anything, but, don’t get a big head because of it and forget your
    PLACE . . “).

    The “illegals” certainly couldn’t stay here long enough to become a tax burden if they weren’t already
    working and paying taxes. Now, if they are working for cash under the table, hmmm… who’s fault
    is it they have become a burden again?

    I’ve been involved in the legal immigration process for about 3 years now. And while I certainly
    understand the frustrations with the DHS (now owner of the Bureau of Immigration), I also have
    a lot more respect for how difficult their job is as well as some things they do well. You have to imagine how difficult it would be to try to keep track of the personal history of *every* individual who enters or tries to enter the US, so, because you are a “nation of laws” you can correctly apply the correct staus to *each individual*.

    If one has experienced, even as a tourist, the grinding poverty
    prevalent in parts of Central, South America, and the Caribbean, the immgration problems that have some hard working American conservatives whipped into a political frenzy are the mere tip of the iceberg of a much larger
    issue. The larger issue is the global economy and role of the regions where there are so many “have nots” eager to

    This ultimately leads to a discussion not about immigration, but how desperately we need to fix our own economic system so we can then become a world leader not in GDP but in *credibility*. From
    that vantage point, we could, with some creativity on the part of our
    own leadership, help other nations fix their systems (especially our nearby neighbors the south).

    A good example is how we sit on our hands while the price of oil spirals toward $150.00 a barrel.
    Our response is to drive less, put a bunch of pickup trucks and SUV’s
    out near the highway with
    for sale signs on them, hold yet another congressional hearing and put out a few clever country western songs along the lines of “take this gas and . . . ” .

    Meanwhile, our neighbors to the south have a huge, probably largely untapped, capacity to provide us with the raw material
    for an alternate fuel compatible
    with our internal combustion engines: namely, raw sugar. A nimble, proactive government would look at resources like this as a means to solve two problems at once. But not our government. Instead, we blow
    600 billion in five years to keep Iraq from sending terrorists to slip past our porous immigration infrastructure and. . . I don’t know, sneak into our bedrooms at night and beat us to death with aluminum tubes ??

  36. Larry Gross Avatar
    Larry Gross

    re: HOT lanes won’t work

    “Value Pricing Pilot Program

    The Congress has mandated this program as an experimental program aimed at learning the potential of different value pricing approaches for reducing congestion.

    This concept of assessing relatively higher prices for travel during peak periods is the same as that used in many other sectors of the economy to respond to peak-use demands. Airlines offer off-peak discounts and hotel rooms cost more during peak tourist seasons. Road-use charges that vary with the level of vehicle demand provide incentives to shift some trips to off-peak times, less-congested routes, or alternative modes, or to cause some lower-valued trips to be combined with other trips, or eliminated. A shift in a relatively small proportion of peak-period trips can lead to substantial reductions in overall congestion. “

    so .. you’re not disagreeing with me.. you’re disagreeing with a whole bunch of people including Congress.

    and take a look at the dozens projects – existing and planned…

    Finally, notice the word – PILOT

    This implies that if the program does not “work” that it will not be continued.

    The fact that toll roads in general have been successfully operating for some time – including in Va – means that even if HOT lanes don’t work – that they’ll probably be converted to Express Lanes (which are tolls that vary by schedule rather than dynamically) or just plain tolls which we know …does work.

    So.. we have citizens supporting tolls 2-1, most of the major conservative and liberal think tanks, many Environmental groups, many State DOTs, the FHWA, many Governors and Congress…

    at the same time we have 80% of people opposed to increasing the gas tax.

    You keep saying “Larry this” and “Larry that”. Larry often provides references to the groups above so it’s not Larry’s opinion but rather Larry’s observation that the public is opposed to raising the gas tax and that they are – along with virtually all the folks involved in Transportation Policy – including Congress are in favor of.

    My approach is pretty simple.

    If 80% of people are opposed to raising the gas tax – what is your plan B approach?

    going around in discussion circles over and over ..only to end up back at the “raise the gas tax” idea doesn’t appear to be a valid “plan b” idea.

    I do agree with you that no one asked the voters on this but not sure that if you gave voters the same choices as the polls – i.e. do you want to pay with higher gas taxes or tolls – that you’d get any different answers…

    so the thing that is interesting about those who find themselves in the minority sometimes – is the idea that people should be “forced” to do something by politicians with “spines” and I would posit that perhaps with the HOT lanes – they did just that.


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