Internal Improvements

I read in The Poughkeepsie Journal the other day that Dutchess County is considering widening 1.8 miles of Noxon Road, and that the project requires Federal approval because they’re providing 80% of the funds for it.

The United States Federal Highway Administration is providing 80 percent of the estimated $3 million to $4 million cost. The state Department of Transportation could provide as much as 15 percent, leaving the county with 5 percent of the cost.

I haven’t driven that stretch of road recently, but I’m generally in favor of addressing safety concerns by lowering and enforcing speed limits rather than improving a raceway.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reports that the Federal Highway Trust Fund is short a few dollars.

An important account in the federal Highway Trust Fund will run out of money this month, a situation that could hamper completion of road and bridge construction projects across the country, Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters said on Friday.


The fund is financed by federal excise taxes on motor fuel, 18.4 cents a gallon on gasoline and 24.4 cents a gallon on diesel. But the fund’s highway account is being rapidly depleted because for months Americans have been reacting to the high price of gasoline by driving less, Ms. Peters said. In May, for instance, vehicle-miles were down 3.7 percent from a year earlier. [emphasis and links mine]

I suppose the governments will need to find another source of revenue in order to continue redistributing the spoils. Or maybe they’ll be a little less generous, and a little more selective, in providing funds for internal improvements. Certainly, without the funds for it, local governments would be less inclined to spend money on projects without an obvious or immediate return.