Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Money for nothing, transportation for free: Virginians don't favor gas tax increases, suggest cutting transportation

According to a statewide poll of residents by Christopher Newport University as recounted by the article "Majority of Virginians oppose gas-tax increase," in the Richmond Times-Dispatch. From the article:

A majority of Virginians oppose increasing the state's gasoline tax or adding tolls to pay for transportation but support privatizing the state's liquor stores.

Transportation ranks among Virginians' top priorities, but also lands at the top of places to cut the state budget, according to a Christopher Newport University statewide survey of 1,097 adults called between Dec. 14-19. ...

McDonnell opposes an increase in Virginia's gas tax, which is 17.5 cents per gallon.
The phone survey, with a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, shows that 61.4 percent of those polled oppose an increase in the gas tax while 33 percent support it.

"I don't think we need to raise taxes, I think we need to cut spending," said David Sorrells, a mechanic from Waynesboro. But Aaron Paolozzi, a federal employee who lives in the Chantilly section of Fairfax County, said a gas-tax increase would discourage driving while helping fix Virginia's roads.

Adding tolls to highways, bridges or tunnels was opposed by 54.1 percent and supported by 42.4 percent. Respondents appear most mixed on adding tolls to Interstates 85 and 95 on the North Carolina border — something McDonnell has requested federal permission to do — with 46.9 percent in support and 48.4 percent opposed.

Terry Wheeler, a retiree who lives in Virginia Beach, said he favors tolls because "if you use it, you pay for it." Retired Richmonder Philip Thomas opposes any tax increase: "The more money you give to a politician, the more they are willing to spend it."

If more budget cuts must be made, 30.2 percent of the respondents think they should be made in transportation — the top-ranked choice among a series of options that also included public safety, education, health care and social services to low-income Virginians.

Youch. Makes it difficult to deal with real and fundamental problems concerning the ever increasing demand for transportation infrastructure and an inability to fund it, as well as a fundamental disconnect concerning the fact that transportation infrastructure costs money.

The interesting thing about this poll for me is that most people believe, and it isn't true, that gas taxes and tolls pay all of the cost of building and maintaining roads.

In this scenario, I don't think that even matters.

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