NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

What Happened To Highway Construction?

December 30, 1997

Some transportation analysts claim that much of the Highway Trust Fund's resources -- supposedly earmarked for new roads and highways -- are instead going for mass transit subsidies, construction of bicycle paths and even new roofs for horse barns in Indiana.

  • More than $142 billion is collected annually from motorists by local, state and federal governments, but almost half goes for "non-road purposes."
  • On an average $1.20 gallon of gasoline, hidden taxes account for about 50 cents.

Critics charge that highway construction has ground to a virtual halt. According to James D. Johnston, author of Driving America::

  • From 1950 to 1994, new highway mileage has only grown by about 9 percent.
  • Of that, just 2.5 percent has occurred in the most recent 23 years.
  • Meanwhile, the U.S. population has grown by at least 100 million since the end of World War II -- an increase of between 40 percent and 50 percent.

The result is increasing traffic congestion. By contrast, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and Japan have twice as many miles of roads per square mile as the United States.

Source: Eric Peters, "Fuel Tax Fakery by Design," Washington Times, December 30, 1997.


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