So, with this bureaucratic interference, there must be some other agenda at play if the government is willfully steering road taxes from efficient road capacity improvements to inefficient non-road uses. Some call it ‘new urbanism,’ others call it ‘sustainable development’ or ‘Smart Growth,’ but the blueprint that spawned it all was the United Nations Agenda 21 program. Agenda 21’s stated goal is to change people’s behavior through restrictions in land use, by herding people into dense inner-city housing, and restricting mobility to force Americans out of their cars and into government-controlled mass transit systems. It’s an assault on our freedom to travel and individual liberty.
By Terri Hall | November 2, 2015
It’s official. Your federal government is using your gas tax money to incentivize state and local officials to reduce auto lanes and create road diets to force you to change your behavior and commuting patterns. New federal rules announced by Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx encourage transportation designers and decision-makers to reduce auto capacity and to create ‘lower-speed roads.’
They can do it by shrinking or converting auto lanes into bus-only or bike lanes. Wide curbing (sometimes in excess of 10 feet wide) is often used to separate cyclists and pedestrians from cars. Throwing up additional obstacles to cars like ‘pedestrian islands’ is being applauded by Obama’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
FHWA also provides new additional ‘guidance’ on how to encourage bicycling using federal gas taxes. Is this the proper role of the federal government? To encourage certain modes of travel over others? People are free to ride their bikes without the government expending our tax money to encourage it. If commuters want to ride their bikes to work, they can do so already. Road users shouldn’t have to waste their scarce gasoline tax money to subsidize other modes of travel they don’t use. There isn’t a mass transit program that survives without massive public subsidies nor is there a mass transit system of federal significance that justifies expending federal dollars for it.
Transit should be paid with local taxes only.
The vast majority of Americans have consistently chosen the personal automobile as the mode of choice due to its unparalleled convenience and ability to get you from doorstep to doorstep quicker than any other alternative. Yes, driving your personal car, even in congested conditions, still beats the commute times for transit, rail, biking and walking. Only in cities that have deliberately punished auto travel by removing parking spaces and shrinking lane capacity available to cars can a person on foot or a bike get to their destination quicker than by car, primarily seen in dense downtown areas. One policy analyst in Texas compared a trip to the Dallas-Ft. Worth airport by car versus by transit and found that by car it took 15 minutes but using transit it took 45 minutes. Herein lies the problem with bureaucratic interference with our personal liberties.
So there must be some other agenda at play if the government is willfully steering road taxes from efficient road capacity improvements to inefficient non-road uses. Some call it ‘new urbanism,’ others call it ‘sustainable development’ or ‘Smart Growth,’ but the blueprint that spawned it all was the United Nation’s Agenda 21 program. Agenda 21’s stated goal is to change people’s behavior through restrictions in land use, by herding people into dense inner-city housing, and restricting mobility to force Americans out of their cars and into government-controlled mass transit systems. It’s an assault on our freedom to travel and individual liberty.
Persistent road funding shortfall
Meanwhile, our federal gas tax funded Highway Trust Fund is consistently going bankrupt, not only due to inflation, but primarily because of this chronic bureaucratic and political diversion of gasoline taxes to non-road uses. It’s not unique to the Obama administration either. Both Republican and Democrat administrations alike have been guilty of diverting gas taxes paid by highway users to other purposes – whether transit, rail, and sustainability initiatives, or for earmarks like the bridge to nowhere. Who can forget the 2005 “pork stuffed” highway bill with over 6,000 earmarks that prompted Republican leadership to race to the microphones to apologize for its excesses?
Conservatives in Congress have been arguing for a much tighter use of road user fees – strictly for highways – but Democrats stymy such efforts insisting mass transit should continue to be funded from gasoline taxes. In fact, most conservatives want to devolve the federal highway program directly to the states. But there is a compelling reason to maintain a strong federal highway system for the purposes of interstate commerce and connectivity of the national system.
The movement of people and goods across the country depends on a well-maintained, safe, and efficient highway system. Many states have abdicated their role to properly fund and maintain the system often diverting state gas taxes to other purposes as well. Texas spends 25% of its state gas tax on public education. Kansas also spends state gasoline revenues on education as well as Medicaid.
The federal government has a public interest in ensuring states indeed maintain and, when needed, expand the federal highway system within their state. A growing number of states, however, also divert larger and larger sums of gas tax revenues to pay for debt service on past road projects, or as the Wall Street Journal aptly characterized the problem, “States Siphon Gas Tax for Other Uses.” Debt service can virtually cannibalize a state’s entire gas tax revenue stream. Last year alone, New Jersey collected $541 billion, yet $516 billion had to be spent on paying off debt for prior projects. This causes many states to rely on federal funding in order to advance any new projects. The system is clearly broken. Bold leadership is needed to address chronic misplaced priorities both at the federal and state levels.
One thing’s for certain, this new federal rule only exacerbates the transportation problem rather than fixing it, in addition to surreptitiously advancing the UN’s globalist agenda of which the overwhelming number of Americans are unaware. Taxpayers deserve better and must demand accountability. FHWA is taking public comment on the rule change through December 7.
Terri Hall is the founder of Texans Uniting for Reform and Freedom (TURF), which defends against eminent domain abuse and promotes non-toll transportation solutions. She’s a home school mother of nine turned citizen activist. Ms. Hall is also a contributor to SFPPR News & Analysis.