30 March 2008
Bump, with or without grind
Every March, TRIP puts out a Survey of Horrible American Roads, and every March, our two biggest cities rank high in horribleness. Appendix A to the current Urban Roads Report [link goes to PDF file] rates 41 percent of Oklahoma City roads as Poor, 28 percent as Mediocre, 11 percent as Fair and 20 percent as Good. (Anyone know any Good roads around the metro?) Comparable figures for Tulsa: 40 / 37 / 7 / 16.
Also every March, someone from the state legislature brings up this survey and vows to Do Something About It, whether his proposed solution will actually solve anything or not. This year it's Rep. Mike Thompson (R-OKC), whose House Bill 3342 would require that auto tag fees be dedicated to road maintenance. "As many as 81 percent of Oklahomans support this proposal in some polls," says Thompson. Heck, I'd support it if I thought it would actually improve the roads. In practice, though, what it will do is provide a few more dollars for the same old contractor hacks who built these things to wear out as quickly as possible in the first place.
Meanwhile, the motor-fuel taxes are still applied with a certain perversity: the state gas tax is 17 cents a gallon, while diesel fuel is taxed at 14 cents, presumably a sop to the trucking industry. Never mind that one single eighteen-wheeler can inflict more pavement damage than a thousand cars. ("Yeah, but they only get 7 mpg so they buy more fuel," if taken to its logical conclusion, requires that the state discourage any and all fuel-economy efforts lest receipts decline, so don't even think of going there.) Tom Elmore once proposed a "weight-distance fee" for trucks in lieu of the diesel tax; it looks interesting, but I'd like to see some numbers.
The San Francisco Bay area is even worse off, roadwise, than we are. Can they turn this into a selling point? Let's see:
Why is this good news for the Bay Area that we [have] the worst roads in the nation?
Because it makes us special! And it ensures that only good people with new cars can live here.
You see, by having poor roads, people constantly need to repair or buy new cars. This is good because it helps keep the poor people out (you know, people making less than $100k I don't even know who does that!) and it ensure that the cars on the road are constantly new. As a result, people are encouraged to buy nice new cars like S-classes, Maybachs, Lexus SUVs etc making the community nicer in general. It helps us stay true to our heritage of bling and money. Isn't chasing status what Silicon Valley was always about?
I wield pretty good snark myself sometimes, but I don't think I could sell that premise here.Posted at 7:03 PM to Soonerland