US Infrastructure

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US Infrastructure

Postby John Galt » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:32 pm

this weekend in the town from which my family is from, Virginia, MN, they are opening a new bridge

this bridge is the tallest bridge in minnesota, and is an engineering marvel for that reason as well as how it had to be sunk into extremely hard rock

it's going over a mining pit

https://www.mprnews.org/story/2017/09/1 ... iron-range

WWII was won on ships and tanks built from iron ore sourced from minnesota. this area is the Iron Range. WWII depleted most of the easily available ore but we still had lots of taconite which was harder to get the iron out of but we eventually figured it out

well some road that went through town went over leased land owned by mining interests who stipulated that they could request it back for the mining. a few years ago, they requested the land back, so they could mine it. and so the government had to find a new route to get into Virginia

this 235 million dollar bridge is what came out of it. and only 30 million was chipped in by the federal government.

is this not the exact kind of infrastructure project that would excite both obama and trump? they want to build a new road so that they can create new jobs mining. plus the only reason there are giant gashes in the land in the area is because we were fighting the goshdarned nazis, which the feds and not minnesota declared war upon. yeah, it's local to minnesota, but wasn't that national exploitation of minnesota resources? this one questions why it should have fallen on the state government to pay for the road almost entirely. in addition Virginia has had to pay 6 million bucks in overruns for utilities costs, and i'll be pretty frank, the town of virigina, the queen city of the north, is not what it once was and it will never be that again; the loan that it had to take out to cover the cost leaves it in dire straits. paying back that loan could be some use of infrastructure dollars from the federal government

the highway trust fund needs to consider alternative sources of income, namely, mileage taxes (tolls). it should work hand in hand with the mass transit trust fund, and it should increase tolls based upon needs. you could even have toll prices modulate to account for heavy times of use (depending on end goals). but we're far short with the money we need based on the gas tax alone. as mentioned this singular bridge cost 230 million dollars. the entire county gets less than 30 billion in federal gas taxes a year. and president trump's infrastructure proposal, which includes spending money on broadband and va hospitals and other not-transportation-related-projects, is 200 billion, but over 10 years. 20 billion a year is not enough. while it would be a welcome injection, the most important thing to do is revamp the highway trust fund's sources of revenue
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Re: US Infrastructure

Postby Kane » Mon Sep 18, 2017 12:52 pm

I get that tolls are efficient and help to get people to live closer to work reducing congestion but it's a bit twisted when people simply can't afford to live close to work. Case in point:

I live in a city in the bay area - my rent for a 525 sq ft apartment, if I resign on a year lease, would go from $1600 to $1900 a month. I'm not anywhere near downtown oakland/SF/etc - I'm in the "east bay." Approximately 23 miles from SF. That's f**k insane. If you tack on tolls to that you'd be excluding people from making their budget work (I'm sure there are those more strapped than me - I'm sure I could handle it but I know others that just couldn't). Bridge tolls alone in this area are $5. There's a new bill in CA for bridge tolls to go up to $8 (the Golden Gate wouldn't change as that is already high). If you add tolls onto the roads here you'd really hurt people's spending money - while the bay area is pretty affluent a majority of its residents probably still live check to check. Costs are soaring out here and incomes aren't rising as fast as rent/housing.

In fact - here's a good forbes article talking about Indiana's attempt at this:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/realspin/2 ... bdc46c2087

http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/po ... es-a-toll/

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2014/10/05/fa ... -seat.html

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Re: US Infrastructure

Postby John Galt » Mon Sep 18, 2017 1:17 pm

indiana made out better in that case. they still got all the money upfront, and someone else is now doing it

privatization of tolls is one question, but tolling at all is another question

i think it's insane to pay that amount of money for 525 sq ft apartment. i pay 1200/mo for my mortgage on my 1900 sq ft place a half hour drive to either minneapolis or st. paul (although i feel like it's a bit small for just me, mainly because it's a townhome and not something with acerage as well as a separate workshop. plus a basement, of course. i am a firm adherent to the pastoral fantasy of americans).

but i don't see why that's relevant. wouldn't businesses then lose employees and be forced to pay more to compensate for the increased tolling? and i'm not even advocating people live closer, i'm just advocating tolling so that we can pay for the infrastructure we still use even though we are on the path to heavily reducing and even eliminating gasoline use for most applications on the highway

also i don't see how rents can really soar WITHOUT soaring paychecks. maybe not for you, or your friends, but gentrification happens everywhere. someone is willing to pay for that. like with people and their tiny houses and whatever nonsense. get a 3000 sq foot house with 12 acres like an american, not some tiny commie house
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Re: US Infrastructure

Postby Saz » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:36 pm

Completely agreed.

1) f**k you, you use the road, you destroy the road, you should pay for that shit.

2) With the rise of electric vehicles, the gas tax will soon be zero. It's not a matter of just raising revenue, but replacing a dwindling source.

3) Reduces congestion. Not every prole can afford to drive everywhere they want, we don't have the space.

4) This is much easier to enforce that any other type of tax. In Florida they have a sunpass sort of thing, automatically registers tolls and pays. Just mandate that on every car, and the roads auto toll themselves.

5) We could raise an incredible amount of revenue, and as you note, vary the tax by location, time, weather, type of vehicle, and revenue needs.

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Re: US Infrastructure

Postby John Galt » Mon Sep 18, 2017 2:58 pm

it needs to come from the top. tolls need to be available to be put on freeways (currently the law is no new tolls) but i think we should really consider putting it all into one national pot for highway use. having a single pass system to handle the tolling would be best. ez-pass is like half national right now, but some states have fees per year and others don't (like NH, which you can buy from which is pretty nice actually for someone like me, who only gets tolled when going on road trips).

in the near future, electric cars will take over. car-sharing will become more popular in that you can rent your car out during the day while you're at work... or you just never buy one. the cost of tolls will just be part of the cost of the whole ride. i think we should be preparing for this. this will also help increase popularity of mass transit solutions, which can be more energy efficient but certainly traffic-efficient
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Re: US Infrastructure

Postby exploited » Mon Sep 18, 2017 4:50 pm

Tolls are inherently regressive, but I think there is an good case to be made for them in re: major highways and metropolitan city streets.

The only sticking point I have is privatization. Under no circumstances should for-profit corporations be running these tolls. They need to be run by an independent, non-profit agency empowered by government to do this job. Similar to the Central Bank I suppose.
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Re: US Infrastructure

Postby Saz » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:05 pm

exploited wrote:Tolls are inherently regressive, but I think there is an good case to be made for them in re: major highways and metropolitan city streets.

The only sticking point I have is privatization. Under no circumstances should for-profit corporations be running these tolls. They need to be run by an independent, non-profit agency empowered by government to do this job. Similar to the Central Bank I suppose.


These wouldn't have to be regressive. You tie the toll to the vehicle registration and tie that to income, or value of the vehicle. You could easily have a very progressive toll tax.
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Re: US Infrastructure

Postby exploited » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:06 pm

Saz wrote:
exploited wrote:Tolls are inherently regressive, but I think there is an good case to be made for them in re: major highways and metropolitan city streets.

The only sticking point I have is privatization. Under no circumstances should for-profit corporations be running these tolls. They need to be run by an independent, non-profit agency empowered by government to do this job. Similar to the Central Bank I suppose.


These wouldn't have to be regressive. You tie the toll to the vehicle registration and tie that to income, or value of the vehicle. You could easily have a very progressive toll tax.


The Nordic countries do this with speeding tickets, which I think is reasonable. But I feel like hell will freeze over before Americans agree to charge more based on income. So many deluded middle class people would complain about supporting the poor.
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Re: US Infrastructure

Postby Kane » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:08 pm

John Galt wrote:indiana made out better in that case. they still got all the money upfront, and someone else is now doing it

privatization of tolls is one question, but tolling at all is another question

i think it's insane to pay that amount of money for 525 sq ft apartment. i pay 1200/mo for my mortgage on my 1900 sq ft place a half hour drive to either minneapolis or st. paul (although i feel like it's a bit small for just me, mainly because it's a townhome and not something with acerage as well as a separate workshop. plus a basement, of course. i am a firm adherent to the pastoral fantasy of americans).

but i don't see why that's relevant. wouldn't businesses then lose employees and be forced to pay more to compensate for the increased tolling?


I think we're nearing that point anyways. Not enough new housing to accomodate employees who cannot already afford a home outright. It's relevant because it goes towards the cost of living in the given area and your ability to make money. And I think companies are losing employees...every fast food joint that I go to around here is hiring. Every. Single. One. I'm looking for a house right now and I've searched the MLS database - you cannot find a home in the east bay under approximately $300k. They don't exist. Condos? Pushing $250k. Want to rent? A room can easily cost you $1,000.

And people will continue to pay it to have a roof over their heads...it's one of the most important things to have. If you don't own a home in the bay already I have a pretty good feeling that we're approaching that 50% mass that pays close to half their monthly income on housing alone.

John Galt wrote: and i'm not even advocating people live closer, i'm just advocating tolling so that we can pay for the infrastructure we still use even though we are on the path to heavily reducing and even eliminating gasoline use for most applications on the highway


Yeah I get that but this taxation scheme is highly regressive. I do feel that people that use the road should pay for it but...what company doesn't use the same infrastructure to transport goods? To acquire raw materials? It's all getting passed down to those paid by their labor - those with diminishing incomes and stagnant wages. There has to be a better way?

John Galt wrote:also i don't see how rents can really soar WITHOUT soaring paychecks. maybe not for you, or your friends, but gentrification happens everywhere. someone is willing to pay for that. like with people and their tiny houses and whatever nonsense. get a 3000 sq foot house with 12 acres like an american, not some tiny commie house


I'm working on it but dude...COL far outstrips income gains in the bay right now. It's really dependent on what industry you work in but I guarantee it - it's happening without soaring paychecks.
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Re: US Infrastructure

Postby Saz » Mon Sep 18, 2017 5:08 pm

John Galt wrote:it needs to come from the top. tolls need to be available to be put on freeways (currently the law is no new tolls) but i think we should really consider putting it all into one national pot for highway use. having a single pass system to handle the tolling would be best. ez-pass is like half national right now, but some states have fees per year and others don't (like NH, which you can buy from which is pretty nice actually for someone like me, who only gets tolled when going on road trips).

in the near future, electric cars will take over. car-sharing will become more popular in that you can rent your car out during the day while you're at work... or you just never buy one. the cost of tolls will just be part of the cost of the whole ride. i think we should be preparing for this. this will also help increase popularity of mass transit solutions, which can be more energy efficient but certainly traffic-efficient


It must be a national system and it shouldn't be limited to just highways. Ie. you face a fixed charge for using a very congested intersection at rush hour (put the toll reader in the light). would be quite simply for some company to develop an app with toll amounts built in so it would force drivers to take the cheapest (read socially optimal) route which in an age of driverless cars would be simple and would allow those in a rush to be prioritised (for a fee).
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