Inner-City Highways

Blog post
June 26, 2012, 9am PDT

Arguments over transportation policy often run as follows:

HIGHWAY SUPPORTER: Highways pay for themselves! Buses/trains don't! So highways good and everything else bad bad bad!

TRANSIT SUPPORTER: But highways create bad externalities like pollution and climate change! So if highways were taxed at their true cost gas would cost a zillion billion cajillion dollars per gallon! (followed by numerous counterarguments and counter-counterarguments that I won't bore you with, except as written below...)

It seems to me that these arguments miss one point: even if the highway system as a whole pays for itself, the system is so chock full of cross-subsidies that each individual road doesn't (except for toll roads).

Michael Lewyn
March 4, 2011, 8am PST
Cities across the country are beginning to realize the mistakes they made years ago dividing their downtowns with urban highways. The city of New Haven has decided to do something about it.
The Christian Science Monitor
September 6, 2010, 9am PDT
New Orleans will have to do something about its Claiborne Avenue Expressway in the coming decade, because after more than 40 years of service, it has seen better days and needs renovation.
Next American City
January 14, 2009, 2pm PST
Officials in Washington have come to a consensus on plans to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct, Seattle's damaged inner-city arterial. They've decided on a $4 billion tunnel, but the plans still need approval from the state legislature.
The Seattle Post-Intelligencer
May 22, 2008, 10am PDT
<p>At one time, Oklahoma City is doing two things many cities have only hoped to: the city's getting rid of one of its aging inner-city highways and replacing it with a park.</p>
USA Today