I-11 should be the priority for infrastructure money | EDITORIAL

Nevada public officials are hesitant to get their hands on millions of new species coming to the state with the passage of the $ 1.2 trillion federal infrastructure bill. The legislation provides $ 275 billion to fund the Highway Trust Fund over the next five years.

This is well above the current base expenses for surface transportation, which is mainly paid for by gasoline taxes. In total, Nevada is expected to receive more than $ 520 million through 2026 as part of this measure. The New York Times admitted that “federal spending, while less generous than that initially proposed by President (Joe) Biden, is still immense in every way.”

A statement from the Nevada Department of Transportation said, “This funding is extremely important for the construction and maintenance of critical infrastructure that Nevada’s growing population needs. While our long-term funding constraints have yet to be resolved, we are delighted that this historic funding sets us on a better course to create a more connected, sustainable and equitable future for all Nevadans. “

This second sentence is quite impactful, weaving together the usual progressive buzzwords while warning taxpayers that no amount of their money will ever be enough. But for the foreseeable future, these are salad days for Nevada transportation officials and private companies vying for national highway contracts.

However, it is important to remember where this generosity comes from. It’s not free. Everything but. All of these billions have been paid by American taxpayers, spread from coast to coast. After being cleared by Congress and the federal bureaucracy, it will now return to the states, albeit via a much different formula than the one used to collect it.

State transportation officials said they would use the money to advance their One Nevada plan, an 80-page document described as “a common basis and a shared political framework for making investment decisions in vehicles. more informed, transparent and responsive transport ”. But the framework is long in bureaucratic jargon and short in detail. NDOT officials should be ready in the near future to come up with a detailed priority list. Local planners should do the same.

While much of the money will undoubtedly come with progressive chains attached to promoting questionable green initiatives, there is an opportunity to advance traditional infrastructure projects that have been overlooked or delayed. The Interstate 11 project – connecting Phoenix to Reno and beyond via Las Vegas – is expected to top the list along with Interstate 15 upgrades.

In many ways, Nevada’s transportation infrastructure already ranks high. The Silver State remains sparsely populated and many of its roads and bridges are new thanks to recent population growth. The NDOT notes that “Nevada currently ranks among the top states for the condition of state-owned and maintained roads and bridges,” with “about 97% of the bridges maintained by the state of Nevada classified as good or fair condition ”, much better than the national average. .

This unexpected money gives national and local authorities the ability to make necessary repairs on the few poor roads and bridges. The money should also be used to alleviate the many traffic bottlenecks in more populated areas, particularly in southern Nevada. Clark County Commissioner Justin Jones, who chairs the Regional Transportation Commission, said technological improvements, including traffic light synchronization, should also be on the list. He’s right, as every local driver who spent 90 seconds alone at a red light as an isolated vehicle will readily attest.

Finally, it should be noted that this is not Washington’s first massive injection of money in recent months. Previous pandemic legislation for schools, small businesses, tenants and the like left many local and national public officials wondering how to spend all the money. For now, we’ll ignore the long-term wisdom of such an economic policy, but suffice it to say that it should leave state lawmakers with limited justification to raise taxes in future legislative sessions.

Source link