The Incoming Biden Administration Raises the Possibility of More Infrastructure Weeks and More Infrastructure Spending

More spending doesn't necessarily mean better results.


All indications suggest that infrastructure will be a major priority for both the White House and Congress next year. Whether anything will get passed is another question.

Both President-elect Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D–Calif.) have thrown their support behind big new spending initiatives, and some Senate Republicans have said that infrastructure could be one area ripe for bipartisan policymaking. And next September 2021 the federal government's major surface transportation programs—covering everything from passenger rail to roads—will expire, providing an opportunity for a major overhaul of transportation spending.

"It would seem to be something that we can work together on in a productive way," Sen. John Barrasso (R–Wy.) told The Wall Street Journal, though he threw cold water on the Democrats' most profligate spending plans.

Barrasso, who chairs the Senate's Environmental and Public Works Committee, proposed a $287 billion surface transportation bill, with most of that money going toward roads and bridges.

That's much less than what Democrats are looking to spend.

Earlier this year, the Democrat-controlled House passed a $1.5 trillion infrastructure package, of which $500 billion was dedicated to surface transportation spending. Funding that would require a doubling of the federal gas tax. Meanwhile, Biden has proposed $2 trillion in new spending for infrastructure upgrades and climate change mitigation.

If the goal is to improve the quality of the nation's roads and bridges, these grand sums miss the mark, says Baruch Feigenbaum, transportation policy director at the Reason Foundation (which publishes this website) and the co-author of a new report on the condition of highways in each state.

"How you spend the money and the organization of the [Department of Transportation] and your policy priorities are much more important than the amount of funding that you have," says Feigenbaum.

As an example, he cites North Carolina, which has the most extensive state-owned roadway network in the country (given that it doesn't have locally owned roads) and a middle-of-the-pack level of gas tax. Nevertheless, his report ranked the state 6th in overall urban interstate pavement condition and 19th in rural interstate pavement condition. The pavement condition on the state's urban and rural arterial roads ranked 16th and 20th, respectively.

Feigenbaum credits North Carolina for maintaining a leanly staffed department of transportation and for not letting politics prioritize its projects.

New Jersey, be contrast, comes in dead last in the Reason report's ranking of state highway systems. Despite having one of the highest gas taxes in the county and spending the most per mile on its roads, the Garden State still has some of the worst pavement conditions for both rural and urban roads. Feigenbaum blames a badly managed, overly politicized transportation department that does a poor job of planning for future highway needs and prioritizing current spending.

Feigenbaum says the federal government could address some of these issues by withholding some transportation dollars from states that do a bad job of maintaining their road networks, and rewarding states that manage to keep their roads in good repair.

But that would be politically fraught, since it would penalize a lot of states. And the coming configuration of power—a Democrat-controlled White House and a Republican-controlled Senate—makes any major shake-up of infrastructure policy and spending levels less likely.

A five-year reauthorization of a surface transportation bill is more probable, says Feigenbaum. And there is a chance that Congress will just pass another short-term reauthorization of current programs, as it did earlier this year.

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  1. This is going to be the biggest boondoggle of an administration in US history and it won’t be close.

    1. It won’t be nearly as profligate as it wants to be. The Republican Senate will be a big brake, and the House doesn’t have enough Democrat muscle to propose as much as Biden will want.

      Some will depend on who the Secretary of Transportation is. Someone like AOC, for instance, would be so ineffective it will make people wonder of the GOP nominated her,

      1. Start making extra income Earn upto $550 to $750 per day by working just online. I have made $28K in this month by working online. Its a simple and easy home job and even a little child can do this job online and makes real money….. WORK24HERE

      2. AOC will probably be named Attorney General, to start the purge.

      3. “Republican Senate”

        Don’t be so fucking sure. Yang and other Dems have been openly urging libs to move to GA just for the special election and then move back. They are now so emboldened with their cheating that they are doing it openly and proudly.

        1. I’m positive the Democrats will take the senate. It will be priceless to watch them throw us into another financial crisis after that triple corporate taxation starts.

          FWIW, Biden’s corporate handlers never expected the senate to be stolen. They would be perfectly happy to blame Rs for all social and equity “injustice”.

    2. dont worry, trump vs biden will keep Biden away from the White House.

      unreason can go back to lying to attack President Trump for his second term. This unreason lying to suck Democrat dick is just not paying the bills for them.

      1. Your hero got smoked by a senile geriatric. There will be no Trump II

        1. The fact that you are happy about that speaks volumes. What a pathetic Biden ass eater you are. SMH

        2. You’re a progtard. Kill yourself.

    3. The fact remains that if Donald Trump is allowed to get away with what the hell he wants to do, he may not remain President of the United States, but he can sure at least attempt to bottle up any kind of programs, including improvements of our infrastructure. Any other President, be they Republican or Democrat, would’ve just simply conceded the Election and let it go at that.

    4. But at least we won’t have MEAN tweets any more, right Reason writers??

  2. some Senate Republicans have said that infrastructure could be one area ripe for bipartisan policymaking
    Minutely reminder that bipartisan anything is like HCl going down your dickhole.

  3. 1.5 trillion for infrastructure means no road or bridge upgrades, lots of pork for renewables, and forcing valuable nuclear and coal plants to close.

    And if you do ever get a new lane on your highway, it will be a toll road.

    Democrats and RINOS working hand in hand for a better tomorrow – today!

    1. And if you do ever get a new lane on your highway, it will be a toll road.

      Or a bike lane.

      1. I would welcome bike lanes in some areas to get the damn cyclasses off our roads. Two-lane, no-shoulder roads with 45+ speed limits. It may be scenic, but it isn’t safe.

        1. They will. They’ll cut car lines by 2/3’ds capacity and replace them with bike lanes.

      2. At minimum, no more bike lanes at the expense of traveled lanes. The skinny pants wearing dipshits have yet to suss that bicycles and tiny electric shitboxes make poor ambulances, worse cargo haulers to get critical supplies in to their festering, erm, vibrant and diverse urban centers.

        1. I heard cities don’t need roads. It would be better to close them off to automobiles and make them boulevards for cyclists and pedestrians.

          1. I quit working at shoprite and now I make $65-85 per/h. How? I’m working online! My work didn’t exactly make me happy so I decided to take a chance on something new… after 4 years it was so hard to quit my day job but now I couldn’t be happier…

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            1. ROFLOL…Sam Zimbabwe wins best govt official name of the decade. Modern monetary theory is literally Zimbabwe. Shit, way too funny.

          2. If public transportation, especially in the cities here in the United States, was better, overall, the need to drive cars into the cities would not be so great.

  4. “More Infrastructure Spending”

    As usual, Reason has nothing to offer other than pragmatic opinions and arguments..
    Not once does it touch on any question of principle or political morality – giving taxation implicit support.

    1. Roads and borders and commerce. Perfectly valid reasons to tax.

      1. Well obviously not borders to the writers of Reason, but any other excuse to fleece the public can surely be stuffed under commerce.

      2. Commerce doesn’t need any tax or any spending. People will make their own deals when they benefit both sides.

        Roads could be owned by private companies, and would be cheaper, safer, faster, and in better repair. But old habits die hard.

        Borders? If you want to keep people out at gunpoint, I suppose yeah, you do need a gang, and you need to loot somebody to fund your gang.

  5. Bipartisan meaning some damn fool republicans vote with the democrats on electric trains and bicycle lanes?

    1. Sounds like you need a “road diet”.

  6. Despite having one of the highest gas taxes in the county and spending the most per mile on its roads, the Garden State still has some of the worst pavement conditions for both rural and urban roads.

    Atlantic City Expressway – Nice and smooth, repaved every 3 years or so, TOLL ROAD.

    Route 42/I-76 (connects at north end of ACX) – Looks like it’s been shelled by artillery, constantly being “repaired”, FREE ROAD.

    1. And fuck Phil Murphy.

  7. Keep infrastructure spending local, even for the interstates.

  8. “President-elect Joe Biden”


    1. Unreason cant tell the truth and doesnt want to.

      I just wonder if unreason has Trump vs biden decision was unfair for Biden articles cocked and loaded like they other garbage articles this rag puts out.

      1. Been hittin the bottle, I see. I’m afraid you’re gonna need a lot of it to get through this.

        1. Ipyiure going to need far more if things don’t go your way tubby.

  9. >>President-elect Joe Biden

    you keep saying this like you’re some kind of credible writer.

  10. “Incoming Biden Administration”

    Says who?

    1. These same unreason hacks said Hillary won, Trump was a russian stooge, Trump would be removed from office, trump will die from kungflu, blah blah, and now Biden will be president.

      If they say lies enough, American might believe them.

      1. Biden’s winning of our 2020 POTUS Election was fair, square and legal, contrary what Trump’s supporters claim. Your guy is an overgrown spoiled brat and schoolyard bully, as well as a meglomaniac who has the dangerous “My Way or the Highway” attitude, which will endanger everybody, including his supporters.

    2. Trump’s team did not provide enough evidence for the twitter judges in the court of public opinion and they threw out his case

      1. That’s exactly right, lap83. Donald Trump needs to be forced into conceding the Election and to get the hell out of the way!

  11. China has propelled itself to the largest economy in the world in no small part because of its massive infrastructure spending. As a result it can ship goods from its inland regions 1500 miles from the coast to the US cheaper and more reliably than Mexico can send goods 500 miles to the US border. We have more $3 trillion in a backlog of needed infrastructure repairs and upgrades. In fact the situation is so bad in some areas (e.g. dams, bridges) we are beginning to look like a 3rd world country. If we want 1st world prosperity, we need to make 1st world investments in our infrastructure. There is no free lunch. We can’t move people and goods efficiently if we are not willing to invest. Invest and prosper, or continue to decline. It is that simple.

    1. China is NOT the largest economy in the world. Not even close. The United States is.

      Per the IMF: USA, 20.8 Trillion GDP; China, 14.8 Trillion GDP
      GDP Per Capita – USA $63,000; China $10,624

      China also is a dictatorship, has miniscule labor costs, endorses slavery and concentration camps, and is primarily still a 3rd world country. Don’t be an idiot.

      1. you forgot to mention all the empty cities they built. a lot of their spending is totally unwarranted and unproductive.

      2. From 1980 to 2020, the U.S. share of world GDP has dropped from about 35% to about 25%. During that same time period, China’s share has increased from under 3% to nearly 19%. “Both the IMF and the World Bank now rate China as the world’s largest economy based on Purchasing Power Parity (PPP), a measure that adjusts countries’ GDPs for differences in prices.” China’s growth rate is three times the rate of the U.S. and pick your economist, but China surpasses the U.S. in straight GDP in about 10 years. I’m not saying it doesn’t suck in many substantive ways including human rights violations, but third world country, it ain’t.

        1. Get outside the cities, and it is absolutely third world.

  12. If the stock market crashes again, what are the odds the phrase “shovel-ready” will get resurrected as if it ever had any bearing on reality?

    1. Trump is being blamed either way. Luckily, the economy will work through a kungflu caused recession during Trumps second term. Trumps hands off policy for the economy will allow it to restructure and work through the contraction.

  13. As always, our infrastructure is “crumbling”.

    Because the government is in charge of it.

  14. Supply and demand. It’s not just a good idea. It’s a law.

    There is high demand for highway capacity, suggesting a need to increase supply.

    There is an oversupply of transit, resulting in empty seats (exacerbated by—but not caused by—the pandemic), suggesting a need to reduce—or at least to stop increasing—supply.

    1. And, of course, public transit now needs to be bailed out because with low ridership they’re running even a bigger deficit than normal.

  15. China is also a dictatorship, has miniscule hard work costs, endorses slavery and attention camps, and is more often than not still a 3rd international country. Don’t be an idiot.

  16. Don’t count your chickens before hatching. Contrary to unreason’s delusions, the election’s not over and there’s no incoming Biden administration yet per the GSA’s just refusal. Hopefully the irrefutable massive fraud will be reported and rejected by reasonable Americans, unlike this sad site. It took more than a month for Bush to defeat Gore’s shenanigans, and as Biden’s are far more corrupt and vast, we’ll see whether God spares us from his obscene, lawless depravity or gives him to as less punishment for our sins than we deserve. 75 million of us know the vile fraud was off the scale and unlike Hillary’s crowd that were groundlessly deranged sore losers with no rational basis for their hate, just Trump Derangement Syndrome, there’s massive evidence of fraud the unreasonable, gullible dupes here with lips happily fixed to Biden’s posterior, joyfully gulping down his feces, ecstatically ogling him molesting women, are happy to ignore, unlike those intelligently covering the news, e.g. Epoch Times that refuse to call the corruption over.

    1. It’s called the judicial system. That’s where disputes like election fraud are resolved, not on the interwebs. Oh, and good luck on divine intervention. Maybe the Falun Gong folks at the Epoch Times can prayer up a stack of evidence that doesn’t make a judge laugh out loud.

    2. Give us a break here Russ….

  17. New Jersey roads are worse because of bureaucratic corruption and incompetence but that’s not the only reason they are dead last. NewJersey also sits at the east-most end of the “freeze-thaw zone” – that is, the line that crosses the country with the maximum number of freezes and thaws each year. Live a few hundred miles north and when it gets cold, the ground stays cold. Live a few hundred miles south and it doesn’t freeze as often.

    This is important because freeze-thaw cycles put more stress on a roadbed than pretty much anything else you can do to it.

    So blame NJ for having bad roads but compare them to other states in the same freeze-thaw zone – PA, OH, etc. Worst of 50 is an unfair comparison.

    1. If they are the worst of 50, it stands to reason that even of fellow “freeze-thaw zone” states, it is still the worst. Being dead last informs the conclusion.

      Of course, one could also go to the link and look at the map, which appears to place Ohio in the 2nd quintile, PA 4th quintile, MI in the 3rd, etc.

      The most telling fact appears to be that the bluest states are the all the bottom 10, and only a few of them possible have the “freeze-thaw” excuse. And the top 10 are much redder states.

      Care to rethink your assertion?

  18. Triple the gas tax and for God’s sake index it to inflation.

  19. This infrastructure / stimulus bidding war between the perpetually bigger government Democrats and bigger government Trump(ies) is immensely destructive both economically and culturally.

    “The United States was supposed to have a limited government because the founders knew government power attracts demagogues and despots as surely as horse manure attracts horseflies.”
    ~ Rick Gaber

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