Road Politics

I was going to my brother's wedding this weekend and we set out for Mississippi today. The weather was nice and the reliability of our transportation surprised one of us. The one thing that I noted was that Mississippi had the best roads. Texas roads have gone down for the past 20 years. Instead of developing a system for maintaining the roads TxDot is employing a patchwork system to make sure the roads maintain minimum requirements not unlike our education system.

The irony is that the road system is highly predictable. We can forecast the deterioration and the expense involved in maintaining good roads. If we then associate a correlated revenue source with the roads we should be able to forget about it. A good correlation might be our gas taxes. The more gas you buy the more you drive the quicker the roads need repair. An annual adjustment of that tax to meet the expenses should be adequate.

What is happening however is politics. Politicians want to play the issue. They want to be seen as the person that gave you the roads you drive on. Our governor wants to be seen as the one that "tried" to give you good roads with his extravagent spending. They don't want a permanent fix; they need issues for future political campaigns.

Then there are the loony politicians that would want to use that tax for something else something special. In our part of the state they are building a concrete wall between the two sides of our interstate. The reasoning is that an out of control vehicle can cross the lanes and go into oncoming traffic on the other side. True that happens and that could happen but how often and what is the cost of the prevention.

It's rhetoric. Misrepresentation is such a major commodity in politics and business that it's often a wonder anything gets done.

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