Atlanta is already known for having some of the worst traffic in the world, and the recent collapse along a major interstate will only make congestion worse. On March 30, in the middle of rush hour traffic, a fire began under the I-85 Northbound that quickly erupted into a massive blaze, eventually causing a section of the bridge to collapse.
Less than 24-hours later, with the rubble still smoldering, the US Department of Transportation announced a $10 million award to begin emergency repairs. Despite the quick response from the DOT, it will take millions more dollars before I-85 can resume carrying 400,000 vehicles daily.
With the nation’s Highway Trust Fund rapidly approaching insolvency, the I-85 collapse and the subsequent Atlanta traffic chaos exemplify the overwhelming cost and inefficiency of public infrastructure in America.
Why So Expensive?
In the United States, transit projects are chronically expensive and time-consuming. The country’s outdated method of allowing most highways to fall under federal care, and cumbersome regulatory obstacles, is part of the reason that we continue to lag behind when it comes to international standards. Regulatory burdens also contribute to other countries’ outranking the US when it comes to securing construction permits, making new projects and maintenance even more complicated.
Read more at FEE
A generation or two into the future, people will look back on the 21st century in amazement that nearly every piece of transportation infrastructure in the United States was once owned by the government.
The nation’s roads, airports, seaports and mass transit systems are almost all currently under the stewardship of a federal, state or local body. But as maintenance costs balloon and systems deteriorate, money to pay for the ongoing costs of infrastructure remain scarce.
Faced with the prospect of cutting costs elsewhere to pay for road repairs or upgrades to port facilities, cities and states are more and more deciding that the private sector has a role to play in transportation.
This also according to eminent infrastructure economist Robert Poole at the Reason Foundation. He has been writing on infrastructure privatization for decades, including a monthly newsletter that documents developments in the world of private infrastructure, as well as the growing trend against government monopoly in infrastructure.
Today, there are more miles of private, tolled interstate lanes being built than at any time in history. Meanwhile, the commercialization of the federally run air traffic control system could very well happen this year.
Read the full article at the PanAm Post.
Rarely does a month go by without some Australian politician, journalist, or commentator lamenting the end of Australia’s reform era.
Ex-politicians like Lindsay Tanner, and journalists like Laura Tingle and George Megalogenis, have blamed the inability to enact necessary reforms on everything from the 24-hour news cycle and an over-reliance on opinion polls, to the decline of the federal bureaucracy. Government’s themselves have cited a recalcitrant senate and an opposition that only says no.
What no one seems to have realized is that Australia’s political class doesn’t want real reform. They want high taxes and lavish spending proposals, typical of continental Europe. Nothing highlights this more than the vastly different reactions to Turnbull’s two most recent ideas—high speed rail and the return of income tax to the states.
Read the rest on The Spectator, here.
As we take a look back, we can safely say that 2015 was a year of populism in Washington. News cycle upon news cycle documented the rise of presidential candidates Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. It saw widespread minimum wage increases. It saw a highway bill which included no long-term solution for how to pay for the nation’s infrastructure, amid populist rage against both a gas-tax increase and increased tolling.
The political year ended with two Republican-led houses of Congress passing the most irresponsible, gimmick-filled spending increase since the TARP bailout. The people have spoken, and they have chosen to kick the can down the road.
Yet, while the nation’s legislators were ignoring important fiscal reforms, the Washington consensus on regulatory issues was changing. More environmental regulation is on the horizon. We know that. To keep it from destroying the economy, we need to generate growth by reforming something else, and 2015 was the year we figured out what regulations our economy could no longer afford.
Read the rest on the PanAm Post here.
Amid California’s devastating drought Jerry Brown laid out a strict mandate to cut urban water use by 25 percent earlier this summer. This comes despite the fact that agricultural use accounts for 80 percent of water used in the state, and this water is highly subsidized.
Last week, the LA Times reported that these water cuts in California have had a number of unintended consequences. Among these are foul smells, sewer blockages, and, most troublingly, increasingly leaky sewer mains. Leaky sewers are a problem for California municipalities. They are expensive to replace, and California’s cities are already pressed for cash to pay for pension obligations, and increasingly-costly basic services. Put simply, the drought is causing pipe deterioration, and the money to fix the sewers isn’t forthcoming.
The root cause of this problem stems from the way water is managed in California, and the government’s reaction when water is scarce. As noted above, the vast majority of the state’s water is used in agriculture.The remaining water is used for urban consumption, tap water in homes and businesses. Agricultural users receive a variety of subsidies which encourage inefficient water use and the planting of too many acres of irrigation-requiring crops in areas that are simply too dry to plant.
Read the rest on Watchdog here.