Saturday, January 29, 2011

Not "smart"

The President feels that it's a safe call to say that we should invest more in infrastructure. And he's the man who likes to say that the spending should be "smart". And the smart set typically nods approvingly.

But we spend a lot on infrastructure and we do not get good returns because we spend "stupid." The last ten years for wich we have data on Federal highway disbursements (see Table 1090) tell the story. These include revenue sharing with state and local governments, much of it matched with local funds, and show a 59 percent increase. Over the same period, total vehicle miles traveled grew by 11 percent (same link, Table 1100).

Some of the discrepancy is due to the commitment to add high-occupancy vehile (HOV) lanes to encourage carpooling. But carpooling is down.