State Hwy Officials' "Call to Action" vs. the "Anti-Hwy Movement"

State Hwy Officials' "Call to Action" vs. the "Anti-Hwy Movement"

Post by Danny Lieberm » Fri, 04 Nov 1994 11:34:30



Organization: Tri-State Transportation Campaign, New York, NY

Subject: State Hwy Officials' "Call to Action" vs. the "Anti-Hwy Movement"

    To:  U.S. transit and sustainable transportation advocates

From:  Tri-State Transportation Campaign (NYC-area)

    Re:  Attached documents -- "Call to action" by pro-highway
         interests/coming fight over ISTEA reauthorization

=============================================

The following documents clearly spell out the resistance to
changing transportation priorities that many of us have
encountered in working with State Departments of
Transportation since 1991.   They also help bring into relief the
battle lines that are emerging over the reauthorization of the
federal transportation bill, formally set for 1997 but in actuality
beginning now.  Following the documents are letters the
Tri-State Transportation Campaign has sent to Governor
Cuomo (will follow with similar NJ and CT letters) and to
AASHTO.  We urge everyone who can to get in touch with
their Governor or their State Transportation Commissioner prior
to the AASHTO meeting on Nov 14-15 and query them on their
stance with regard to the agenda contained in the text which
follows.  Please spread this as far and as wide as you can.  

We urge everyone to stay in as close as possible contact with
the Surface Transportation Policy Project (202-939-3470) on
strategy for ISTEA reauthorization, since we'll need a tightly
organized network not only to fend off those who would s***
the existing bill, but to strengthen it against the inertial forces
that have been highly effective in promoting business-as-usual
despite ISTEA's significant departure from previous highway
bills.

Jon Orcutt

(The following is verbatim text of a letter printed on
STATE OF NEBRASKA, STATE HIGHWAY COMMISSION
letterhead that was received by the Tri-State Transportation
Campaign on November 1, 1994)

State of Nebraska
State Highway Commission

October 3, 1994

Re: Diversion of Highway Funds
      A Call to Action

Dear Commissioner or Board Member:

Enclosed with this correspondence is a thesis describing a
national anti-highway movement designed to forestall highway
construction or divert traditional funding sources to other
activities.

This letter is a call to action to all State Transportation
Commissioners or Board Members.  We invite you to review
these issues from your own state's perspective and come
prepared to fully debate these critical subjects with your
personal appearance at AASHTO 1994, Albuquerque, New
Mexico on November 14 and 15.

A new level of determination has been expressed by members
of AASHTO's Boards and Commissioners who now desire to
address these disturbing trends with affirmative action.  With
your consensus in November, we hope to draft resolutions
guiding the re-authorization of ISTEA in 1997.

Sincerely,

(signed)

John McClellan, Chairman

Herbie Blanscum, Vice Chairman

Jim Gamble, Secretary

*       *       *       *       *       *       *

(The following is verbatim text of the "thesis" referenced in the
above letter.  It was printed on blank paper with no letterhead
or indicated author -- it was mailed out with the State of
Nebraska cover letter above, but was clearly written by
someone watching congressional transportation policy
deliberations)

Diversion of Highway Funding
September 1, 1994

Social and political agendas antithetical to highway expansion
pose a clear and present danger to the economies, public safety,
and convenience of much of the United States.

The issues include clean air and clean water legislation and the
dimensions of our national transportation system.  The Clean
Air Act of 1990 was the first clear indication of how effective
and pervasive anti-highway forces have become.  The
movement was further highlighted by the Intermodal Suface
Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991 (ISTEA).  Clearly the
goal -- and the goal is not timidly stated -- is that we should
build no more capacity, not just in cities, but in the areas
surrounding cities.  This dictum is 180 degrees out of phase
with reality: the public is driving more and using alternate forms
of transportation less.

Congress will experience a major collision with political reality
on this matter.

Pro-highway interests in affected states represented at the
Chicago 1994 Mississippi Valley Conference of State and
Highway Transportation Officials (MVC) sounded the alarm
and are now inviting constructive debate on the question: Is it in
the public interest to erect disincentives in Federal legislation to
local, intrastate, and interstate surface transportation?

Issues include a whole host of clean air and clean water
regulations basic to the philosophy of a national transportation
system for the 21st century, as well as emerging political and
social agendas: e.g. alternative uses for highway trust fund and
user fees.

Anti-highway forces clearly imposed a substantial change of
direction that is not in the nation's best interest for these reasons:

* Light rail and other transit solutions are generally not
cost effective and are  noncompetitive, in all but a very few high
population areas.  These projects should be supported where
effectiveness is proven but not by diverting traditional highway
funding sources.

* Approximately 2% or less of trips are by alternate
transportation systems.  Where personal resources permit, as
demonstrated in this country and on the European continent, the
public continues to elect for private vehicular transportation
solutions.

* Environmental groups have allied with other advocates
who seek to stem the decline of urban centers by halting
highway construction in urban and suburban areas.  The
popular myth that highway construction leads to the
deterioration of core urban areas has obscured the fact that
highways can be a key ingredient to orderly development.

* Beneficial programs for clean air, clean water and other
environmental concerns are being misused to block development
of the nation's highway network and siphon off highway funds
to other uses.

These issues have a common denominator: They erect hurdles to
orderly surface transportation planning and administration.  
Clean water legislation is taking the same path.  While the initial
language does not present an extreme threat, we know that a
large number of amendments are waiting to be added.  Our
experience in legislation, such as with clean air and with
ISTEA, is that the most damaging amendments are added at the
last moment to avoid alerting effective opposition.  We expect a
move to make wetlands nonreplaceable for highway
construction purposes which would completely devastate
highway construction in corridors that encroach on wetlands.  
The logical approach of wetlands banking or, providing
additional wetlands as replacement, will not satisfy the anti-
highway forces.

Probably more damaging is the requirement or proof that any
runoff from the highway will cause zero damage.  This process
could require studies that take literally forever.  The clean water
bill could very well indeed become a major instrument to stop
highway construction.

We also face the new obstacle of alternative investment
analysis.  This procedure, required on projects in urban areas, is
a mechanism under which thousands of questions can be asked
to delay forever highway projects.  This is the same tactic used
in environmental studies by anti-highway interests and is a very
effective one.  You can always raise just one more question.

Probably the largest stake we have as a highway interest is what
happens with national highway system designations.  While this
passed in the House quite easily, there is strong suspicion it will
not pass the Senate without several serious exactions.  The most
ominous warning is one that has already been said by the House
leadership, that the national transportation system will be the
blueprint of the reauthorization of the highway fund.  At this
point, it should be said that authorization is not the right word,
rather a complete rewriting of the national transportation law
that will have little mention of highways.  This is already clearly
the message being sent from the administration and from leaders
in Congress, particularly in the Senate.  All the foundations have
been set to make a major funding diversion.  Discussions will
begin on the next transportation act within the next one to two
years, and it is highly important that the states understand what
is happening and devise a strategy to insure that safeguards are
set to insure against these measures.

The bottom line is that there is a major change in direction in
what is happening in Washington on highway issues.  The
upward spiral of highway user fee diversions dilutes the
nation's highway program and the placement of insurmountable
obstacles toward securing construction approvals will delay our
country's highway projects.

This also poses the question as to whether or not there should
actually be a Federal highway program, or whether user fees for
transportation should be returned to the states for their exclusive
use, as in the process used in Canada.  Without a strong national
program such as the Interstate program or a national highway
system, there is a non-existent need for the Federal government
to be involved.

Somewhat alarming in this whole issue is the comparative
ineffectiveness of the highway community in making its case as
strongly as the anti-highway interests.  The anti-interests have
done a superior job of packaging their agenda.  The warm,
fuzzy wrappings of clean air, clean water, intermodal, multi
modal, sustainable transportation are a siren's music to our ears.  
This approach, combined ...

read more »

 
 
 

State Hwy Officials' "Call to Action" vs. the "Anti-Hwy Movement"

Post by Larry Smi » Sat, 05 Nov 1994 00:23:22

Seems like this "thesis" is actually a fair and clear-eyed assessment
of the econazi agenda and the potential for mischief it embodies.  But
I can't get up too much enthusiasm for the venue.  New York is a moral,
legal, ethical and financial basket case.

Actually, I could really get behind expelling New York from the Union
and letting the econazi's have their way with it.  Maybe we could kick
out California and Massachussetts, as well.  Let them form the new
country of "Liberalia" and let them show us how wonderful the new
socialist regime is for all before we put the rest of the country
behind it.  We can get all the states between NY and Ca to donate
some land for a transportation link - which won't be a highway,
obviously, and will probably be just let go feral since it will
certainly include some wetlands, or at least a few good puddles,
and so couldn't be used for _any_ liberal, "environmentally correct"
purpose.

--

A government big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take
everything you have.  -- Barry Goldwater.  Liberty is not the  freedom to do
whatever we want, it is the freedom to do whatever we are able. -- Me.