While most in the transportation community are focusing their federal advocacy efforts on working to secure a long-term solution to the Highway Trust Fund’s repeated revenue challenges so Congress can get to work on a multi-year surface transportation bill, some environmental groups can’t move beyond their decades-long anti-highway crusade. U.S. PIRG last week released a report, “Highway Boondoggles: Wasted Money and America’s Transportation Future,” criticizing 11 different highway improvement projects that add system capacity. The group continues to cling to the notion that Americans are driving less as the latest justification for their long-held opposition to new highway investment. The folks at U.S. PIRG must have missed the August 29 Federal Highway Administration press release entitled “New Data Show U.S. Driving at Highest Level in Six Years.” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx states in that release, “More people driving means our economy is picking up speed. It also means we need to increase our investment in transportation…”
The flawed projects, according to U.S. PIRG, are: Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct, Wash.; Tesoro Extension to Toll Road 241, Calif.; Interstate 11, Ariz. and Nev.; Dallas Trinity Parkway, Texas; Tolled Express Lanes on Route 470, Colo.; I-94 in Milwaukee, Wis.; I-94 through Detroit, Mich.; Illiana Expressway, Ill. and Ind.; Cleveland Opportunity Corridor, Ohio; Effingham Parkway, Ga.; and I-26 Connecter, N.C.
Congress continues to resoundingly overrule activists seeking to curb investment in new surface transportation system capacity. In fact, the 2012 surface transportation law increased state flexibility for the use of federal highway funds.