Local roads are overused because they’re ‘free’

May 4, 2012

Letter to the editor published in the Washington Examiner

Re: “Va., Md. punt on billions needed for roads,” April 30

As a Virginia native, I have had intimate experiences with the horrid traffic in the D.C. metro area. However, contrary to popular opinion, traffic is not a symptom of a limited supply of roads. Rather, the roads we have are overused because they are not priced.

In a free market, prices steer resources to their most valued uses. Our current road funding system is broken because it does not take cues from the market. We just clumsily tax everyone and then provide roads free of charge.

A much better way to provide roads would be to use tolls wherever possible. That way, drivers would bear the cost of driving, traffic would decrease, and the funding of roads would be aligned with the number of people that actually drive on them.

Scott Drenkard

economist,

the Tax Foundation

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