At some point, we’ll have a mileage-based road tax. Maybe we’ll have more highway tolls, and congestion pricing.
What we have now is the gas tax, and we need to make use of it.
Although gas prices have been dropping sharply, neither the federal gas tax nor the Oregon state gas tax has been raised since the early ‘90s. Over that time, our roads and bridges have steadily deteriorated. Drivers sit motionless in traffic, and if they do get up some speed, they risk losing their transmission in one of our expansive potholes.
There are costs to paying an increased gas tax. But there are also costs to losing time in traffic and to driving on roller-coaster roads that can reach up and damage your car.
And there are major costs to the economy when it takes longer than it should to get freight and people from one place to another. That’s why other developed countries spend a lot more on infrastructure than we do.
Groups from the American Trucking Association to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce support increasing the gas tax, and investing the money in improving our transportation system. It’s something to think about.
And if you’re trying to get anywhere in America today, you’re likely to have a while to think.
NOTE: This commentary appeared on KGW-TV, 10/24/15.