We—the states, the feds, the taxpayers—continue to be Out of Money. Luckily, Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation, the nonprofit that publishes Reason magazine, has found a way to free up $10 billion, and he has some bright ideas about how to use it efficiently to keep the federal highway system functioning.
From Poole's blog post on the study, "Restoring Trust In the Highway Trust Fund," which was released today:
Our new Reason Foundation study…calls for a new program to revitalize and rebuild the Interstate system for the 21st century, while devolving everything else to the states. With the existing federal fuel tax, plus new freedom to use pricing and toll financing, Interstate 2.0 would address both chronic urban freeway congestion and the productivity of interstate trucking. By refocusing federal priorities on Interstate 2.0, we estimate that about $10 billion more per year could be invested in the modernization effort.
Worried about the federally-funded subways that get you to work, you urban dweller? Poole has that one covered, in an admirably hardheaded style:
Urban transit is clearly a local/regional responsibility, not federal, and should be funded at those levels. But it's almost certain that Congress will continue making grants for this purpose, so our study argues that such funds should no longer be taken from highway users but should instead come from federal general funds, like the government's other community development programs.
Check out the whole study here, available in various levels of pre-digestion for everyone from the transit fanatic to the interested-but-lazy news consumer.