Why We Don't Need More Highway Funds

We don't need more highway funds because right now, as estimated by the Anti-Planner, about 40% of Federal highway funds go to non-highway projects.   In particular:

Over the past fifteen years alone, America has spent well over $100
billion on rail transit construction projects but has little to show
for it. As mobility advocate John Semmens pointed out a few days ago in
a recent Washington Times op ed, transit's share of urban travel has actually declined since 1995.

Wow, money well spent, huh?  I have written many times on commuter rail follies in Phoenix and other western cities that are utterly unsuited to rail transit.  The most recent news here in Phoenix is that design flaws are appearing, even before the first train is run.

  • Speculation alert: The breaks in the steel rails in Phoenix would seem to be consistent with brittle fracture, which can cause steel to fail at low temperatures.

    Given the newspaper description of where the breaks have occurred, in proximity with metal drain covers over open drain spaces, the temperatures at these spots would be colder than where the steel rails are in direct contact with the ground. The combination of these lower "spot" temperatures, common minor manufacturing defects in rolled or extruded steel (notching, pitting, etc.) and thermal cycling (the swing from low to high temperatures during the course of the day), and maybe even the possible low fracture toughness of the steel alloy, would be the contributing factors to the failure.

    If this speculation holds up, then yes, it's a design flaw. And yes, it would be hugely expensive to fix, as the only way it could be properly done will be to replace all the rails altogether throughout the entire line - otherwise you would run the risk of mixing substandard rail with the good stuff, as well as having the same kind of brittle fracture failures year after year if it isn't - only worse because the rails will be loaded under actual use.

  • Carrie

    Ah, we have 'light rail'expansions proposed here in Sacramento, CA. at a cost of over 14 Million per mile??? More details on that in the morning .....

    Tomorrow we also have : the "National Surface Transportation Commission" will propose that Federal gasoline taxes be increased by 40 cents per gallon (over the next five years). This is to purportedly to fix the 'ailing bridges and roads'. Hmmm, that would make an average gallon of gas here in California what? 3.89 ? * per their 'Policy and Revenue Study' quoted in the Sacramento Bee newspaper