Graves: Give Highway Funding Responsibility Back To States

Today’s Courier Herald Column:

9th District Georgia Congressman Tom Graves has penned an editorial for the Atlanta Journal Constitution calling for an end to the 55 year old Federal Highway Trust Fund and the associated federal motor fuels tax. Graves calls the Eisenhower interstate highway system “complete” and that “the central government’s job is done.”

The current federal tax on gasoline is 18.4 cents per gallon, and is set to expire. Congress is working on a temporary 6 month extension of the program while a longer term agreement on the future of the project types and related funding levels can be negotiated. Conservatives are beginning to balk at a program that has long been used to sell “jobs” and represented pork brought home to the district. Of particular note to some, such as Graves, is the disparity of funds sent to Washington over the life of the program versus funds returned to Georgia.

Graves cites a net deficit of funds paid versus projects funded from 2005 to 2009 of $839 Million, or $.89 returned for every dollar collected. Graves further claims Georgia has received only $.848 cents on the dollar since the program’s inception, calling that return “highway robbery”.

Said Graves, “I believe the federal government has mishandled our gas-tax revenues and mistreated states such as Georgia, and it’s not hard to understand why. A big pile of money in Washington is like flypaper for political agendas, lobbyists, special interests and earmarks. The Highway Trust Fund is no exception, and it’s being drained for projects that have absolutely nothing to do with highways.”

The diversion of funds away from highways and into other projects also has the ire of Graves and other Conservatives. Graves takes aim at what he believes to be social engineering through livability initiatives, which fund to programs such as bike paths, sidewalks, scenic byways, and decorative flower arrangement for medians. Oklahoma Senator Tom Coburn has vowed to use “all procedural tools at his disposal” to block the continued funding of highway beautification and bike path construction in any extension of the highway program.

The most expensive diversion of highway funds also sets Graves at odds with Georgia Senate Transportation Committee Chair Jeff Mullis, once considered a rival for Graves’ congressional seat. Mullis is perhaps the state’s largest proponent of high speed rail, seeking to build a line from Chattanooga to Atlanta. Graves lumps the rail programs high speed and commuter transit projects alike, into a group with bridges to nowhere. This hardly represents an endorsement of high speed rail through his district. He notes that the Heritage Foundation now says that fully 38% of highway funds are used for non-highway projects like those mentioned above.

Graves suggests an alternative approach in Senate Bill 1164, known as the Transportation Empowerment Act. It allows for a five year transition to allow projects already begun with commitment of federal funds to be completed, but winds down the federal gas tax to 3.7 cents per gallon. These funds would then be used only for programs which have a “national purpose”, the definition of which will surely fuel great congressional debate. The remaining highway funding responsibility “is one issue that can and should be handed back to the states” according to Graves.

The maneuverings by congressional Republicans come at a somewhat awkward time for politicians back home in Georgia. The state is already set to attempt to pass 10 regional sales tax initiatives for additional road and transit funding. Many of the projects on the T-SPLOST lists are tied to the potential of federal matching funds.

Though Graves clearly envisions the state replacing most if not all of the federal fuel tax at the state level, it is hard to imagine state legislators looking forward to a vote to replace the tax, knowing any potential opponent could flood their district with direct mail citing their vote for the “largest tax increase in Georgia’s history.”

The awkwardness is compounded by the fact that the Georgia Department of Transportation is currently looking for its forth leader in four years after last week’s resignation of Commissioner Vance Smith. GDOT is the primary component in setting highway funding and construction priorities in the state, yet many of the top jobs had gone unfilled under Smith prior to his resignation. Virtually the entire leadership team must now be filled, leaving multiple questions unable to be answered during this crucial time for setting the state’s transportation vision for the future.

While the timing is less than convenient, long term budget priorities of the federal government should all be under review, and Graves taking an active role in a debate which all U.S. Citizens should be having. What is the proper role of the Federal Government, and how much of what is currently being done by the Fed can and should be done by the states? Graves has framed the question for highway funding. It will now be interesting to see the reaction from state leaders who love to use Washington as a whipping post, all the while taking federal matching funds to promote their asphalt version of economic development.

48 comments

    • seekingtounderstand says:

      But we didn’t sign our Donor State Cards………………

      Good points now do something abou the Ga Tollway Authority plans by Repbulicans to turn GA into a International Toll Road for Lexus Drivers. Thanks

  1. I mostly agree with Graves with one major exception… take the rate to zer0. Giving the federal government a small percentage still has administrative costs, which I would imagine would eat up a fairly decent portion of the monies collected. Why not just eliminate the federal tax altogether and let states collect what they need. If there is a project that crosses state lines let the two, three or however many states work together to build it.

    • griftdrift says:

      “If there is a project that crosses state lines let the two, three or however many states work together to build it.”

      An interesting idea. But, what happens when there’s a disagreement between 2 or more states? Two words – water wars.

      • If there’s disagreement between two or more states and they can’t come up with an agreement, then the project doesn’t get funded. I would submit that people can survive without any additional roads than what we have now. It would be rather difficult for someone to survive without water.

      • bgsmallz says:

        Look…I absolutely have questions about where the federal government has been spending federal highway funds, but this idea that somehow Georgia should get a 1:1 return on the actual dollars put in seems a little absurd. OK…so if I’m building an interstate from Savannah, Georgia to Chicago, Il. in order to supply Chicago with containers on trucks from our port…and in Georgia, we don’t have many mountains or gorges or rivers that have to be crossed and in Kentucky they have mountains, gorges, and the Ohio River…we can afford 100% of our road but Kentucky can only afford 85% of theirs…do we really receive less benefit from the road than Kentucky?

        Of course freaking not.

        And let’s not even get into the idea of what Kentucky or Tennessee could extract out of Georgia in order to get them to pay for a road that helps our port…we could end up with a worse deal than we already get if we have to pay Tennessee market value for opening our economy up to the Midwest.

        Let’s have the discussion on what projects truly should be funded at a federal level, budget, and set the tax to pay for them. Fine and dandy. I’ll bring my arguments about robust interstates and high speed rail, you can bring yours about starving the beast and boondogles. But let’s not confuse the concept of direct spending received with benefit received.

          • bgsmallz says:

            Right…but one of the major talking points made by Rep. Graves is that we’ve gotten a raw deal because only .89 of every dollar has been spent here…that map shows that Georgia gets benefits beyond the money that is actually spent in Georgia, which is my point.

            I’ve got no problem reassessing our national highway needs…are we really built out? If not, do we really need to budget X towards X projects. But framing it as “highway robbery” because we haven’t received a 1:1 ratio of direct spending is just dumb.

            • I think the argument could be made (and was) that the Interstate highway system has been built out for the timeframe (2005 to 2009) where he referenced the 89% number…

              http://www.ajc.com/opinion/should-the-federal-gas-1175599.html

              Perhaps back in the 1950s, yes… the argument could be made that a national fuel tax was needed to fund an interstate highway system. We have that now. But now we’re no longer talking about federal fuel taxes paying for interstate systems. We’re talking about them paying for bicycle paths, sidewalks and intracity transit systems at the rate of about 38% of the monies collected according to the Heritage Foundation. Is that truck going from Savannah to Chicago going to stop mid way, unload their bicycle and go for a pedal, hop back in the truck and continue along to Chicago?

              • bgsmallz says:

                See my post below for the real scoop on bicycle paths, sidewalks, and transit. (although, I’m pretty sure the safe path to schools program would get some support…I want to say folks in Dunwoody are taking advantage of it.)

                Ok, should we fund transit out of the fuel tax? You say no. I say yes. Let’s argue over that.

                But cutting all the money for bicycle lanes and sidewalks( since they are such a HUGE part of the takeover by the central planning state <-sarcasm)…would put such a little dent in the actual budget that I'm surprised they are being referenced so often….oh, no I'm not. They are buzz words to get people who refuse to look at the actual numbers themselves fired up.

                • Thanks for doing the research for me… certainly interesting. While I agree that $85M is a small chunk of the money, I have a problem with any money being spent on those kinds of things from federal fuel taxes… whether it’s $85k or $85M.

                  But of course we’ve had the debate over whether transit should be funded out of the fuel tax. The question here is more of a – “Should Charlotte’s transit be partially funded by Georgians?” I say no. Should we send all of our money to DC, have it tied up in bureaucracy where there are various administrative costs involved, only to have to beg for it back to “match” other local funding? Imagine if when planning transit projects such as the Midtown to Cumberland light rail line that you didn’t have to speculate that DC may approve funding for your project?

                  • bgsmallz says:

                    $85M might be too much for recreational paths. Heck, $1 might be too much. I’m actually curious about what that $85M goes to.

                    Anyway, interesting that the administrative expenses have averaged roughly $389 Million over the past 5 years….the article cites $424 M of a budget of $52.7 billion…that’s less than 1% of the entire budget…I mean, I’m not sure states individually could fund $52.7B in infrastructure projects and spend less than 1% on administrative overhead in the funding of those projects.

                    The matching process is frustrating…you saw it at work with the downtown street car project…they didn’t get matching funds for the larger project but did get funds for the short project, etc. etc. It’s all too much politics. As a transit advocate, [which makes me a self described RINO, I’m sure…actually, that probably means I’m a lib’ral] I know all too well the reality of having to speculate on DC approving funding for any transit project in our state.

                    • bgsmallz says:

                      Ok…

                      Interesting nuggets from the actual text of the bill on the Recreational Trails Program.

                      -Cap of 7% can go towards states’ administrative costs.
                      -The RTP funds are distributed to the States by legislative formula: half of the funds are distributed equally among all States, and half are distributed in proportion to the estimated amount of nonhighway recreational fuel use in each State. (For shame! The government is talking all our money and giving it to other states for bike trails! -OR- the money that is going towards recreational trails is divided proportionally by legislative formula. Same thing, really)

                      And here is the ultimate hypocrisy of Graves/Heritage…the Recreational Trails funding is for both motorized and non-motorized trails, but here’s the kicker.

                      “The Recreational Trails Program (RTP) begins with purchases of fuel by off-highway recreation enthusiasts, including motorcyclists, snowmobilers, ATV-ers, and four-wheelers. More than 18 cents in Federal tax is paid on every gallon of fuel used in their fun – representing more than $150 million in receipts every year, according to studies by the U.S. Department of Energy. In 2001 and for the subsequent two years, $50 million of this money is used to fund the Recreational Trails Program, administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).”

                      The funding for the RTP is actually LESS than the estimated tax receipts collected from users!!!!!! THE RTP funding PAYS FOR ITSELF AND SUBSIDIZES OTHER USES!!! Holy crap. So much for eliminating those ‘subsidized bike trails’…

                      I’m truly shocked.

        • OleDirtyBarrister says:

          Chicago is on the Great Lakes. There would never be justification for that much overland truck travel when shipping containers when the alternative is to take it destination to destination by vessel.

          But building a new highway across state lines would be a problem. The other side of the coin is that the US does not have the money to spend on eminent domain to acquire the property and then build the road and bridges. The focus in the foreseeable future ought to be to use the revenue generated for the intended purpose and then to focus on maintenance and upgrades. There are some interstates, like I-40, that desperately need additional lanes.

      • seekingtounderstand says:

        Heck you know they are just using the old “water wars scam” to get to spend more on lake lot developments. It would be different with roads, really!

    • SOGTP says:

      What David suggested actually happened with I-95 in Philadelphia. The piece between the New Jersey and Delaware border was the last to be completed. PA could not agree on the routing, because it required huge swaths of the City of Philadelphia to be bulldozed. At the time Mayor Rizzo could not get the families to agree on who would do the work and how much to pay.

      It was completed to the N. Philly border and from S. Philly to Delaware.

      Eventually the families were paid off and it was completed. They bulldozed thousands of homes and businesses. But at least the deal was made locally without a criminal gang in Washington dictating what would stay and what would go.

  2. Max Power says:

    My god what a stupid idea. Not necessarily giving responsibility for highways back to states but eliminating the federal gas tax, if anything the tax should go up.

    • Why not eliminate the federal gas tax and let the individual states set the rates at what they believe is acceptable? If Georgia wanted to set the rate at 25 cents per gallon or 80 cents per gallon, it certainly could.

        • Agreed. But 18 cents per gallon isn’t going to have much impact on the amount of gas burned. But the premise suggested by those wanting to keep the tax in place isn’t that it will shrink or quell demand… it’s that it will pay for infrastructure projects such as more roads, bridges, transit systems, sidewalks and bike paths. Why should we continue sending money to the federal government, only to have to fill out applications and beg and plead to get it back for individual projects such as these when we could simply collect the tax and fund these items ourselves? Raising the federal fuel tax to $1 a gallon might have an impact on demand for fuel, but I haven’t really seen any discussion about that.

            • Hrmm. A couple of thoughts come to mind here.

              1. Yes, imposing an imported fuel tax (similar to an imported car tax) is similar to the fuel taxes at the pump, but yet different.

              2. I haven’t really seen many politicians talking about raising the fuel tax. Perhaps there’s one or two here and there… but it’s not really a major point of discussion. At the moment, the discussion tends to hinge around whether or not to continue the fuel tax period.

              3. I think we’ve seen more and more people looking at more fuel efficient cars and ways to curb their usage – many without any government encouragement. I know I personally have stopped driving my big diesels around so much and drive a $500 beater car back and forth to my day job that gets roughly 27 mpg. Why? Multiple reasons. I care about the environment and the surrounding air quality, it’s cheaper to buy fuel at 27 mpg than 18 mpg and oil changes are cheaper at $20 vs. $100 and then there’s the national security aspect.

              It’s the same reason I try to limit the amount of plastics I use (plastic is also an oil based product). Just yesterday the cashier at Publix just couldn’t understand why I didn’t want / need a bag to carry a 4 pack of potatoes that I purchased on my way home from work. I assured her I could probably carry them just fine without the assistance of a plastic bag. Somehow I managed to not drop the one item between the cashier and my car.

              Part of the problem is that there are many in the country who just don’t care. For instance, I know of a variety of people who were going to turn every light on in their house to purposefully burn more electricity on the night that whatever group it was organized the event to try and get people to turn off electrical devices and lights for one hour one evening for Earth Hour or something like that. These same people were saying how on the day that these same environmental groups were organizing events to try and get people to not drive their car that they were going to hop in their big diesel trucks and sports cars to make sure they burned enough fuel to try and offset the non-use by the environmentalists. Until we get these kinds of people onboard (the drill here, drill now / drill baby drill / let’s burn all we can), we’re going to continue to need more and more fuel from somewhere. I look at the situation from an individual responsibility aspect – I believe it’s each of our responsibilities to burn less fuel and be more efficient in regards to the various resources we use without having to be forced to conserve by some politician or government somewhere.

              • PS – note that before fuel went up to $4 per gallon I was buying biodiesel for my trucks. It’s not that I didn’t care about the environment before… I was just contributing towards alternative fuel research through my fuel purchases.

                • SOGTP says:

                  If you want to lower the price of fuel you will need to use more. Create more competition and lower the price. If you stop using oil, you will shut down the economy as fuel based on kumquates just doesn’t make it.

                  • Errm, I’m not familiar with fuel based on “kumquates”. I am familiar with fuel based on used vegetable oil and chicken fats. And I’ve never said I want to see the price of fuel lowered. Alternatively, I’d like to see less fuel used. What’s wrong with oil derived from sources other than pulled out of the ground as petroleum?

                  • trainsplz says:

                    I don’t think that that is quite how supply and demand would work in this case, sogtp. based on what happened to the price of fuel when demand stayed approximately the same and supply decreased, that is.

        • SOGTP says:

          If you decrease the amount of gas burned, you collect less tax and cause the price to increase.

          How are people going to get to work, trucks deliver food, etc.

          • bgsmallz says:

            Uhh…microeconomics here on earth is calling. Under your scenario, decrease in demand would equal an increase in price. But an increase in price by definition decreases demand. So your scenario would basically mean that we couldn’t stop the demand for gas reaching 0 and the price for gas reaching some infinity large number.

            {Unless you are saying that demand for gas is truly inelastic…in which case, there is no need to even having this discussion}

            All of that to say is, ‘that’s not how it works.’

          • Perhaps you’ve never heard of biodiesel. That’s okay… I’ll give you a head start here…

            http://www.biodiesel.org/

            I’d invite you to call the place I buy my biodiesel from tomorrow to ask about prices. They’re already closed for the day today (I think they close at 5:30 or so anyways.) SA White Oil Company in Marietta – 770-427-1387 – http://www.sawhite.com

            Most food delivery trucks already burn diesel – not gasoline. Many of the engines can already support 100% biodiesel. Remember, I’m not talking WVO here (waste vegetable oil)… I’m talking biodiesel. (WVO can be filtered and blended with chemicals to turn it into biodiesel.)

            If you decrease the amount of gas burned then yes, you’ll also collect less tax. If you burn less fuel (without any fuel economy improvements being taken into consideration) then you’re using your infrastructure less and don’t need additions or repairs quite as often, right?

            • SOGTP says:

              Keep your biodiesel. I’ll take my 97 octane gasoline 100% gasoline, which gives me much better gas mileage than burning the poors corn supply up in traffic.

              Biodiesel and ameoba fart fuel you can keep.

              • Like a lot of people, you’re probably confusing biodiesel with ethanol. Seriously, read up on biodiesel and diesel engines. I’m not a fan of corn based ethanol either. There are other stocks that can be used to make ethanol besides corn though that are much more efficient than corn. But this wasn’t about gasoline or replacing it with ethanol.

                Back to non-gasoline fuels – biodiesel is a replacement for diesel #2 / LSD (Low Sulfur Diesel) / ULSD (Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel). Have you ever seen an 18 wheeler? Surely you don’t think their engines run the same fuel you put in your gasoline powered car, right? What about dump trucks? F350 duallys? Chevy 3500s? CAT / John Deer / Takeuchi / Bobcat / Kubota tractors and other large equipment? They’re mostly all diesel engines that can burn biodiesel (which is usually not made from corn) just as well as they can burn dirty diesel. Sure, you can make biodiesel from corn oil, but it’s just that that you’re making it from – corn oil – not just taking the sugars from the corn and distilling them into an alcohol / ethanol.

                • Charlie says:

                  David, David, David.

                  The founding fathers didn’t use biodiesel in their tractors nor their F-150’s. In fact, biodiesel isn’t mentioned anywhere in the constitution. You’re barking up a dead tree.

                  • Charlie, Charlie, Charlie… think “DaVinci Code” here… you forgot to use your secret decoder ring from the cracker jack box on the Constitution…

                    We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

                    All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives.

  3. Rambler1414 says:

    The interesting twist I could see here is what would happen to tolling.
    If you removed the federal gas tax from the equation,
    would states have much more flexibility in regards to tolling their existing infrastructure? (vs. the old rule of you can only toll an additional lane or an entirely new bridge/road)

  4. bgsmallz says:

    By the way, cut through the boogey man numbers of 38%….the bicycle paths, walking trails, and ‘livability’ issues of ‘central planning’ and ‘social engineering’ that Rep. Graves wants to harp on?

    The Heritage Foundation’s own article only lists 85,000,00o to recreational trails. 85M out of $52.7 Billion somehow has turned us into the USSR?

    I get it…some folks hate transit and/or don’t think that it should be funded out of the gas tax. Well, 22% of the 38% number cited by the Heritage Group goes towards transit…so let’s just have it out on that rather than accusing the federal highway department of being Marxist, ok?

    Interestingly, somehow roads on Federally owned lands, on Indian reservations, in the national parks and forests, scenic highways, and the Appalachian Highway System were included in the 38% of money cited by Rep. Graves and the Heritage Foundation as not being spent on highways…hmmm…. that’s weird. Why would they say money spent on roads was not being spent on roads?

    Also, the National Corridor Infrastructure Program…. http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/safetealu/factsheets/corridors.htm …hmmmmm again…that sounds like money spent towards our roads?

    and the Cooridinated Border Infrastructure Program was cited as being funneled away from highway spending….hmmmm, again.

    http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/safetealu/factsheets/borders.htm

    Basically, my point is, that Graves is full of crap….er….being disingenuous by framing this as some sort of ‘central planning’ issue and citing the 38% number as being funneled away from our highways.

    Is there waste? Is the money ripe for abuse? Is transit an appropriate expenditure? Is there any multiplier in having a coordinated highway system? Are we better off having states fund their highways themselves? Those are all fair questions…and they deserve a fair and balanced look at how we are actually spending our money and not some sort of hit job that uses socialism buzz words to scare folks into thinking we are about to fund bike lanes from Savannah to California.

    • bgsmallz says:

      BTW- I resent the AJC getting Hank Johnson to respond back about extending the tax. Seriously, it’s awful.

      The views of Hank Johnson and Tom Graves are the most rational guidelines at framing the debate on the fuel tax? ugh.

  5. analogkid says:

    OK, returning highway funding back to the states sounds like a great idea, until you realize that Georgia receives $0.96 for every dollar sent to the Federal government overall (http://www.taxfoundation.org/UserFiles/Image/Blog/ftsbs-large.jpg). That necessarily means that Georgia is a net receiver in some other categories, even if we are a slight donor state overall. Shall we eliminate the programs in which Georgia is a net receiver at the same time, or do we cherry-pick only the ones for which we pay more in than we get out?

    Seriously, I’m asking.

  6. Dave Bearse says:

    Sure, debating the size of the gas tax and its allocation by program and state merit reasoned discussion, but Graves appears to be challenging Broun’s status as Georgia’s kooky Congressmen with this proposal, Broun reigning supreme since McKinney left the scene.

    Note that the transportation legislation that Graves opposes was enacted by a GOP Congress and signed by a GOP President. (Can anyone volunteer where Graves was on legislation requiring Congressional District balancing of state transportation expenditures?)

    Overall federal expenditures in Georgia are 1% greater than federal revenues from Georgia. Truth be told, it’s well established that red states are very much the net beneficiaries of federal spending. See 2005 federal spending relative to revenue by state at this link http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/266.html It’s abundantly clear that it’s Democratic states that are carrying the federal tax burden, with the 42nd through 51st in order being NY, CA, DE, IL, MN, CT, NH, NJ, NV, DC, none of which is even receiving back 80% of what is collected in federal taxes.

    Georgia very likely has a significant net inflow with respect to military spending, but I doubt you’ll see Graves suggesting Georgia military bases be scaled down or closed to better balance federal taxes paid by Georgians and federal military spending in Georgia.

    The GOP strategy—hold hostage important legislation to extreme right field proposals so that the resulting compromise is right of majority consensus—seemed to have worked with the debt limit, so why not use it again? The problem is it is not an effective governing strategy when in the majority, as well as the fact that what goes around, comes around.

    • Baker says:

      “Truth be told, it’s well established that red states are very much the net beneficiaries of federal spending.”

      Thank you Dave. This is a fact often ignored or hidden, either directly or indirectly through budget games and shell game accounting. I don’t think your average voter realizes the extent to which this is true. I don’t have any numbers at hand and don’t want to take the time to look them up, but between Medicare/Medicaid, food stamps, welfare, and % of govt jobs in rural places (where the highest employer is often govt) lots of southern states aren’t putting their money where their mouth is. This only obfuscates and further complicates the ability of voters to properly measure or understand the impact of govt. spending.

      • griftdrift says:

        could only find numbers up to 2005, but the bottom line is if we start returning all those dollars to their states – hippie, communist California is going to be sitting pretty (currently receives about 80 cents on the dollar) where as those good God fearing people in Alabama are going to be in trouble ( receives about $1.60 on the dollar).

        Meanwhile Georgia would be fine. We’re usually about even.

        http://www.taxfoundation.org/research/show/22685.html

  7. Clint says:

    Roads don’t last forever, they have to be repaved. Bridges have to be updated. That costs money. There is a role for government.

    And on a final note, why are we taking policy cues from a guy who refused to pay his own bills. He’s an example of what’s wrong with politics, not what’s right.

    • Roads do have to be repaved and bridges updated… but why not let state government collect the monies to do that instead of asking the feds for the money that they just sent to DC to do it? The states are still the ones in charge of doing the projects, right? They’re just having to ask DC for the money? Why keep the middleman?

  8. Southerner says:

    Oddly, no one has mentioned the savings we would realize on every project if we didn’t use federal funds. The funds Georgia gets from the feds, about a billion dollars this year, come with loads of strings attached. For instance, any federal project must have an Environmental Impact Statement, and that usually takes upwards of $20 million and 18 months to complete. Think of the savings if we only had to deal with GEMA’s regulations instead of EPA.

    However Mr. Graves ought to understand that there is a benefit to the taxpayer of having bike lanes — wherever they are installed, curbs tend to last a lot longer.

    • Dave Bearse says:

      Every project needs to be evaluated in accordance with the Environmental Protecton Act, but very few projects require an EIS, and few EIS require $20M.

      GEPA requirements largely mirror EPA requirments, though you’re correct that they aren’t as as comprehensive.

      Environmental work rarely adds more than a single digit percentage to a project’s cost. Some environmental work is as much preliminary engineering as it is environmental assessment.

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