Budgets, Policies

Budgets, Policies

Copyright 2008, Traffic World, Inc.

Paul Page is misguided in his view that increasing federal spending yet again will somehow have a different effect on the nation''s traffic than all the previous federal spending increases have ("Budgets," pg. 4, Feb. 11, 2008).

Our transportation challenges lie not with a lack of funds, but in how those funds are spent. Over the last 25 years, we have increased spending by 100 percent, even after adjusting for inflation. During the same period, traffic delays in metropolitan areas have grown by almost 300 percent.

The real problem is that while America''s investment in transportation is at a historic level, the way Washington distributes those funds is based on political seniority instead of targeting it to where it would be used best. Perhaps Mr. Page knows something we don''t, but we don''t have any reason to believe that Congress is suddenly going to change its ways and embrace a more rational transportation investment scheme.

The president''s transportation budget takes these staunch facts into account, and reflects the necessity for dramatic change in financing and managing our nation''s transportation systems. This budget will help us tap into the more than $400 billion in highway and transportation funding that is available today from non-tax sources, including the private sector, tolling and private activity bonds.

We can do as Mr. Page suggests and increase our reliance on fossil-based fuels, allow traffic to get worse and encourage even more earmarking. Or we can do more than President Eisenhower ever dreamed of, without increasing the gas tax, adding to the national debt or allowing for a single new earmark. The choice is stark, and frankly, we think it''s pretty simple.

Mary E. Peters

Secretary

U.S. Department

of Transportation