Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Single White Vampire Seeks New Infrastructure

North Texas Tollway Authority has a press release out. Hat tip to Big Jon Daniel for forwarding this along. It is rather comical in that my first impression was to confuse it for a personal ad placed in the singles section of what used to be newspapers (which I suppose is now Craig's List(?)) by a vampire.
NTTA roadways “may be greater economic drivers than ever before because transportation access is so important in terms of residential choice and the choices businesses make in terms of where they want to locate,” Weinstein said. “You don’t have to be an economist to notice this. I’ve lived here 36 years and watched the expansion of these roadways and seen the type of development that occurs along or close to them.”
"I want to whisper sweet nothings in your ear...then I want to bite your neck. Just a little nibble. I promise."

And that promise is economic development. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal right. Yes, infrastructural spending invariably leads to investment. But what kind? And for how long?

I think we already know the answer that bad infrastructure begets bad, short-term "economic development" which quickly turns into disinvestment. But as long as we are able to move the goalposts and only measure short-term investment leveraged, it still sounds like a pretty siren's song.

But then again, "housing won't go anywhere but UP!" Sounded pretty good too.

And I should add, I'm in favor of tolling highways. Just not building new ones to do so. That is a racket. Fundamentally, the toll is designed to help roads and drivers pay their own way (not even above and beyond to cover potential externalized costs such as pollution, etc. Rather, the toll merely covers the gap in funding leftover by the gas tax which only covers about 50%).

By offering what seems like a free good, free access to roads, badly distorts everyday transportation decisions. By more accurately pricing this "good," you would inevitably reduce demand. If you're reducing demand, why then do you need more roads?

Oh, because your business is building roads. Who cares if you're effing over the city in the long-term. But really, isn't that what the vampires in the want ads want to do anyway?