There was an editorial in Transport Topics last Monday about Mr. Trump’s infrastructure plan. The cost of the project is estimated at $1 Trillion, I don’t see how they could figure that, as you know the cost of these things has a tendency to increase with time. In 1956 the original proposal for the interstate highway system included a cost of $425 Billion. The Federal Gasoline Excise Tax at the end of 1956 was .03 cents per gallon. It is somewhere in the vicinity of 18.4 cents per gallon now. This is not to mention all the different state taxes that are added on.
All of you are aware our bridges and roads are falling in. The politicians have put this off for many years now, it has come to the point where it can’t be delayed, too much longer. It is costing more for upkeep every day and the cost is not going down. I don’t think anyone has a good solution, I am sorry, we are all going to have to pay or not too much longer we are going to be back to the dirt roads of the 1900s.
The term Spaghetti Junction is a term given to complicated, intertwined traffic exchanges. The term originated in 1965 in Birmingham United Kingdom. A journalist Roy Smith in the Birmingham Evening Mail, likened an interchange on the M6 motorway in Birmingham, to a plate of spaghetti.
There are several highway interchanges, all over the world and many in the United States, that resemble a plate of spaghetti. Professional Drivers in North America know where they all are and as the population increases they are more congested – some throughout the day and well into the night!
Well Known Interchanges
Those of you that drive the country every day are very familiar with these well-known interchanges of our Nation:
- Atlanta, Georgia – Tom Moreland Interchange -I-85 and I-285 – first started in 1957 – went thru a major overall from 1983 to 1987 and is now considered the worst in the Nation – over 300,000 vehicles per day
- Judge Harry Pregerson Interchange – I-105 and I-110 in South Los Angeles – completed in 1993
- Denver, CO – The Mousetrap – I-25 and I-70 – started in 1951 – originally built as an intersection between two local roads – completely rebuilt in 1987
- Newark Airport Interchange – I-78, US 1/9, US 22, Rt 21 and I-95 – opened in 1952 – has gone thru many updates and countless repairs
- Chicago, IL – Jane Byrne Interchange – four expressway intersections just west of downtown Chicago
In 1960 the United States had a population of 179,323,175 people, an increase of 18.5 percent from 1950. Considering these numbers, how does our Government plan for highway construction? There were 11,914 trucks registered in the U.S.in 1960 and 61,671 automobiles registered that year.
In 2015 the U.S. had a population of 320,090,857 people. That year, there were 2,746,882 trucks on the road and 8,600,936 cars registered. Just to throw some other numbers in – between births, deaths, and immigration – the countries’ population increases by one person every sixteen seconds. Some of these numbers are courtesy of usnews.com.and wikipedia.org.
New Highways – Businesses – People
I don’t know who it was that created the phrase “if you build it they will come”, but I know it has been quoted many times thru the years. This is very true when you build new highways. It seems like when a highway project is started, it’s not too much longer several businesses are being constructed next to the road.
Drivers all over can see it every day. We can think of a lot of major through fares, all over the Nation where this happens. I have been around and thru Dallas, TX a lot in my lifetime and one just has to look at the construction of I-635 around the north and east side of Dallas – think of all the businesses and people that have populated that area.
Interstate 30 starts west of Ft. Worth, TX and goes on to Little Rock. AR. Construction was started in the early 1960s and was not fully completed, in Texas until 1971. How many warehouses, businesses, hotels, and apartment buildings have been built along the stretch from Ft. Worth to eastern Texas?
All of this construction brings people and people bring their automobiles. The warehouses get built, which brings more people and before you know, all the big trucks are running in and out!!
Human Population Growth Problems
The Tom Moreland Interchange in Atlanta, our number one spaghetti junction, was first started in 1958. I would imagine there was a lot of scenic country to look at, then. The population of Atlanta was 3,949,00 people in 1960 and in 2016 there are 9.492,167 people living there.
I was living in Denver, CO in 1970 and I can still remember driving thru there with no problems at all. It was called the Mousetrap back then too, but very few traffic jams. Colorado had a population of 1,758,000 in 1960 and in 2016 the population is 5,850,000 people.
The Money Problems
Everyone in the Nation benefits from good, well-built highways and a lot of businesses benefit from modern highways. All of us could probably agree – The Trucking Industry should not bear the burden of the cost!
It is talked about in Truckstops, Diners, and Coffee Shops all over the United States – When are our roads and bridges going to get repaired? The National Highway Trust Fund was established in 1956 to finance our national highway system. It has since gone thru many changes and a good deal of fuel tax increases. It was to be funded by revenue collected from the gas and diesel tax.
The Federal Tax on diesel fuel is currently 24.5 cents per gallon and the tax on gas is 18.5 cents per gallon. In 2006 the Federal Government collected $28.2 billion. Had the money been spent properly and spent only on highway-related projects we might have more in the trust fund that we now have. The government spends about $50 billion annually on our highways, running a deficit of around $16 billion.
There no question that we are way short of the $1 trillion Mr. Trump is proposing. How to fix it, is the number one question and my guess is that by the time the politicians get done, nobody is going to be happy.
The only way I see is thru a combination of highway tolls, private investments, more contributions from the states, and yes higher fuel taxes.
Even though, our money has been improperly spent – is always spent on things we don’t really need – we are the ones who will pay the price. Our Social Security problem will have to be dealt with in the future. The infrastructure problem needs to be dealt with now.
The Trucking Industry has a lot of issues facing them this year, driver shortages, ELD Mandate, and uncertainty with NAFTA. Along with the normal problems the industry face, we don’t need a hike in fuel taxes!