“Paseo del Volcan plan hailed as future of the west”
“Full steam ahead on ‘active’ Paseo del Volcan project”
“DOT considers proposals to ease traffic on U.S. 550”
The headlines always sound so romantic, don’t they?
Though these are all real headlines from the Albuquerque Journal about real projects, they’re selling a myth. This is part of the discussion within the #NoNewRoads campaign by our friends over at Strong Towns—an education and advocacy nonprofit working to create resilient communities through better development models. #NoNewRoads strives to transform the national transportation conversation through a nontraditional campaign (emphasis ours):
This week at Strong Towns we are going to focus our attention on the embarrassing mess that is the American system of transportation finance. Our premise here at Strong Towns has been, for some time now, #NoNewRoads, a rejection of any proposal to spend more money on this system until we undertake dramatic reform.
That position puts us at odds with advocates on the left of our political spectrum as well as those on the right. So be it. The current political paradigm is bankrupting this country … . It’s time to create a new paradigm.
The Band-Aid Approach
Everyone loves a ribbon cutting for a new road project, but maintaining the infrastructure once it has been built is not quite as fun or exciting. Our current financing system emphasizes new construction without accounting for long term maintenance costs.
New and widened roads are subject to an economic rule known as “induced demand.” It works like this: