Outgoing US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx says the battle over how to pay for the country's infrastructure is still being fought, and he suggests looking at diverse revenue sources. In this interview, he also discusses autonomous cars, transportation technology, ride-sharing and smart cities.
Americans want improved roads and better bridges -- they just don't want higher taxes to pay for those things. A recent Reuters poll found that 51% of Americans don't want to raise taxes to fund infrastructure projects, but on the other hand, 50% support tolls or user fees to fund infrastructure projects.
The Federal Highway Administration has approved a $1.2 billion project to widen 10 miles of Interstate 70 in Denver from six to 10 lanes, which requires removing some homes and businesses. The project will add managed toll lanes with variable tolling, but it could face court challenges.
The Trump transition team has approached Virginia to inquire about projects there that might use tolls as a source of revenue, but as Aubrey Layne, the state's transportation secretary, noted, "Most of the infrastructure needs in this country are rebuilding assets that aren't putting in capacity. ... You need a sustainable, multimodal, growing revenue source," he said
The Florida Department of Transportation plans to rehabilitate the Howard Frankland Bridge in Tampa but has decided not to add a toll lane. The decision is part of a larger effort to add 90 miles of toll lanes to interstates 275, 75 and 4 around the city.
Officials in Ohio, Pennsylvania and Michigan have created the Smart Belt Coalition to develop regulations and standards for autonomous vehicle development -- similar to the decision to use a standardized gauge for railroads. "Once they got to a standard gauge and you could sell a ticket or move freight to a much larger market, everyone was better off," says Randy Cole, executive director of the Ohio Turnpike.
Chicago's Cline Avenue Bridge was condemned seven years ago, and a private company was to have replaced it with a toll bridge a few years ago. Nothing has been done, leaving former bridge traffic to reroute through city streets.
RiverLink will soon send its first batch of toll invoices to drivers without transponders who've used the newly tolled bridges over the Ohio River. Drivers with transponders pay $2 to use the bridges, while those without are charged double and have 30 days to pay their bills.
To protect themselves from negative publicity from President-elect Donald Trump, some supply chain leaders at the World Economic Forum are discussing the benefits of local production. Industries, including car manufacturers, technology companies, food companies and fashion, are considering the value of re-shoring operations.
In a recent poll, 66% of surveyed Canadians said they would prefer to pay tolls rather than more taxes to fund infrastructure improvements. Many supported the use of public-private partnerships even though they don't want private management of infrastructure and are wary of government waste.
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