Monday, March 06, 2006

The Transportation Debate Heats Up

The Richmond Times-Dispatch offers three perspectives on the transportation debate in today's edition:

Gridlock!

"Transportation Challenge Carries Steep Cost..." by Philip Shucet, former VDOT Commissioner

"...Stalemate Places Drivers in Jeopardy..." by Martha Rowe Mitchell, lobbyist for AAA Mid-Atlantic

"...Fortunately, There's Time to Craft a Compromise" by Trip Pollard, with the Southern Environmental Law Center

I shall comment on these as I have time.

6 Comments:

At 12:01 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

I simply cannot understand how anyone who calls himself a conservationist can make the arguments that Trip Pollard does with a straight face. As far as I can figure out, they are illogical in concept, unfounded in fact, economically unsound, and politically doomed. Environmentalists would do better to concentrate on what is achievable and likely to do some good.

 
At 7:00 AM, Blogger Larry Gross said...

Gee Ray... are you saying that what VDOT and pro-road folks has been saying have been said with a more straight face? :-)

.. somehow.. we're going to come up with 100 Billion in new funding so that we can build all of those "urgent" projects that will pull us out of the "congestion crisis"?

Who would I believe more? Now THAT's a quandry... :-)

hmm.. is there nothing at all in Pollards comments that "might" have some merit?

If we discount some of the "pro road" rhetoric to see if we can find something reasonable in what they say.. could we do the same with Pollard's comments?

and why not?

... and how doomed are the road projects that environmentalists oppose?

... even if they are thought to be misguided... like it or not.. they influence projects.... and seem to be quite good at getting out the NIMBYs for specific projects...

Methinks.. the most likely solutions to go forward... are the ones that have support.. from both sides...

the old days of pushing the enviros aside ... went away when the money did... and when we started talking about taxpayers rather than fuel-users paying for infrastructure....

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

The pro road guys are out of control too, but I don't see them making claims that are over the top: they don't claim their plans will solve obesity or global warming.

I don't think they claim their plans are "free - no cost" or even inexpensive. I'm not sure I ever heard them say they would fix congestion, and I don't believe they will.

If you add a third lane in a congested area, and it is still congested, all that means is that you are moving a third more people, your investment is being fully used, and the road is very popular. Claiming that you can't pave your way out of congestion misses the point. Besides, there is no evidence that alternatives or land use will solve congestion either.

Pollard suggests spending half our money on alternatives that carry less than ten percent of traffic and one per cent of commerce. I'm sorry, but to me that is patently crazy. Even if there is some merit, overselling the product makes people suspicious, and it is therefore counterproductive.

Is there some value in promoting alternatives? Sure, but let's keep it in perspective, and lets use the additional lane example as a metric: if the alternative is not being fully used, maybe the money should have gone someplace else.

I was brought up and trained as an environmentalist: enverinmental chemistry, economics, and energy management. I'm not convinced that the NIMBY's aren't costing us more and creating more damage than they are conserving, and giving the movement a whacko image in the process.

Sure, the road gang is over selling, too. That $100 billion started off as $200 billion. There is plenty of blame to go around.

But I stand by my opinion. Pollard's comments are without basis, economically unsound, and illogical. If the projects that go forward are the ones that have support from both sides, then let's promote ideas that have some chance of getting support from both sides.

 
At 12:41 PM, Blogger Larry Gross said...

yup... basically don't make good the enemy of perfect....

but think of the SELC as the 'green' mirror version of the Virginia Association of Road builders...

lot of rhetoric.. both left and right put out a lot of stuff to see how much will "stick".. then go with what they think has some chance of passage.....

but give the SELC credit... agree or not with their message... enough people now believe at least enough of it... that Kaine won 'red' areas that would have been unheard of in years past...

Several bills have progressed through the GA that died early deaths year after year... in prior GAs...

take the land-use issue... one which developers have, in years past, dispatched within hours of the opening gavel of the GA by just wrinkling their noses... now they're fighting for every... vote... on the floor...

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

I don't agree with their message, precisely because people are being led to believe things that as far as I can see are without merit.

When you call the police, rescue squad or fire department would you want fifty percent of them to arrive via alternate transportation?

I think SELC has obfuscated "the land use issue". What does that mean? Where are we going to put the next two million people. What about their desires? What evidence is thare that some as yet undefined land use plan can someday reduce congestion, or ever deliver a fire truck? What land use is "good" and what is "bad"? Who decides and on what basis?

I'm sorry, I guess I just prefer pork to hogwash.

 
At 3:26 PM, Blogger Ray Hyde said...

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