an idea that is ready to be buried with a shovel…

Palm Beach County in Florida has used most of its local gas tax money for road construction.  The county has sprawling suburbs with residents claiming they are entitled to new-and-improved roads.

After all, developers built houses where the roads could not handle the increased traffic, so the county has to expand infrastructure, right?  But look at what Palm Beach just did…

Palm Beach officials have changed direction, and decided to dedicate the majority of their local tax dollars to transit.

The county has a 12 cent/gallon local gas tax.  In the past, 75% of that revenue (9 cents/gallon) was spent on new road construction.  The other 25% (3 cents/gallon) funded the Palm Tran bus system.

Now, only 5 cents/gallon will go towards new road construction, and the other 7 cents/gallon will be dedicated to the bus system.   Directing a majority of funds to transit required some political cost – dropping 8 new road projects from the county’s five-year road plan.

As reported in the Sun Sentinel, county officials are looking past the next election.  “We need to start investing [in public transit] now or we’re going to have major problems in the future,” said Tomas Boiton, of the local group Citizens for Improved Transit. “Roads are very expensive. We can’t keep building out major routes like Okeechobee Boulevard anymore.”

Prince William has directed all transportation funding from local bonds since 1988 towards road expansion and road improvements.  The 2006 bonds allocated $300 million to new road projects.   (We fund the bus/rail transit services in PW County through an extra 2% tax on gasoline sales.)

Spending all of our money on roads is an idea that is ready to be buried with a shovel.  We need to turn the page.  We need to start investing in public transit now.

When the economy recovers and PW County officials propose new local bonds for transportation infrastructure, the majority of the funding should be directed to transit projects.


1 comment so far

  1. Marian Hamamo on

    I agree that we should be spending much more of our money on transit projects. I think that if new roads need to be built because of new development, then the developers should foot the bill.

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