Strife in the fast lane: How to solve America’s $1.7 trillion transportation problem
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Event Summary

 

America's network of roads, bridges, and tunnels is in need of significant investment. On Wednesday at AEI, scholars discussed new methods for moving from the increasingly ineffective gas tax to a system that charges motorists a per-mile user fee for travelling on roads.

R. Richard Geddes of AEI and Cornell University presented his new investment public-private partnership (IP3) concept, which would use the large upfront payments generated by P3 concession leases (the payment that a private partner pays for the right to toll and operate a roadway for a period of time) to capitalize a protected permanent fund. The fund would issue annual dividend payments to every household in a newly priced region, helping offset the costs of paying tolls and generating buy-in.

Robert Poole of the Reason Foundation presented his Interstate 2.0 concept, which would institute all-electronic tolling in almost every state, converting at least a quarter of all travel costs from per-gallon taxes to per-mile charges. Poole demonstrated how such a system would generate almost all of the $1 trillion in revenue needed to adequately maintain and expand the Interstate Highway System.

Jack Basso of Parsons Brinckerhoff  applauded both Geddes's and Poole's proposals for engaging the complex political dynamics that have inhibited the implementation of mileage-based user fees, while Joung Lee  of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials underscored the complexity of pricing a very large network of roads.
--Brad Wassink

Event Description

America’s network of roads, bridges, and tunnels needs $1.7 trillion in investment by 2020, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Traditional methods of funding these needs, such as fossil fuel taxes, fall short: Americans are driving fewer miles, and inflation is eroding fuel tax revenues. Meanwhile, congressional gridlock and fiscal constraints have prevented large federal investments.

Many policy analysts agree that road pricing — charging motorists a variable per-mile rate based on congestion levels — can address many of these concerns. Yet the concept faces local, state, and federal hurdles.

Join AEI for a discussion of two new policy proposals that address the use of road pricing and public-private partnerships, as well as state efforts to enhance infrastructure and economic competitiveness. Panelists will also discuss how these proposals intersect with the federal transportation authorization bill, due to expire in less than a year.

If you are unable to attend, we welcome you to watch the event live on this page. Full video will be posted within 24 hours.

Agenda

11:45 AM
Registration and Lunch

12:00 PM
Introduction:
Stan Veuger, AEI

12:05 PM
Presentations:
R. Richard Geddes, AEI and Cornell University
Robert Poole, The Reason Foundation

12:45 PM
Panel Discussion:
Jack Basso, Parsons Brinckerhoff
R. Richard Geddes, AEI and Cornell University
Joung Lee, American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials
Robert Poole, The Reason Foundation

Moderator:
Emil Frankel, Bipartisan Policy Center

1:05 PM
Audience Question & Answer

1:30 PM
Adjournment

Event Contact Information

For more information, please contact Brad Wassink at [email protected], 202.862.7197.

Media Contact Information

For media inquiries, please contact [email protected], 202.862.5829.

Speaker Biographies

Jack Basso is a nationally recognized expert on transportation finance and policy and is a senior adviser in the strategic consulting group at Parsons Brinckerhoff, a global infrastructure strategic consulting, engineering, and program and construction management organization. Basso’s career includes leadership roles at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) as well as senior positions in the US Department of Transportation. From 2001 to February 2013, he oversaw the management of AASHTO as chief operating officer and business development director. Before joining AASHTO, Basso served as assistant secretary for budget and programs and as chief financial officer at the US Department of Transportation.

R. Richard Geddes is a visiting scholar at AEI and associate professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. His research fields include private infrastructure investment through public-private partnerships, US Postal Service policy, corporate governance, women's property rights, and antitrust policy. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Australian National University in Canberra in fall 2009 and a visiting researcher at the Australian Government's Productivity Commission in spring 2010. In both positions, his research focused on Australian public-private partnerships. Geddes teaches courses at Cornell on corporate governance and the regulation of industry. He served as a commissioner on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission and has held positions as a senior staff economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisers, visiting faculty fellow at Yale Law School, and National Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

Emil Frankel
is a visiting scholar at the Bipartisan Policy Center (BPC) in Washington, DC, and an independent consultant on transportation policy and public management issues. Previously, he served as BPC’s director of transportation policy. Frankel was assistant secretary for transportation policy at the US Department of Transportation from 2002 to 2005 under former president George W. Bush. He was commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation, a counsel to Day, Berry & Howard LLP (now Day Pitney LLP) , and a principal consultant at Parsons Brinckerhoff. Frankel was a visiting lecturer at both the Yale School of Management and the Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, where he taught on issues of transportation, energy, environmental policy, and public management. In 1995 he was a joint fellow of the Mossavar-Rahmani Center for Business and Government and of the Taubman Center for State and Local Government at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Joung Lee is the associate director for finance and business development at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO). He is an expert on surface-transportation policy and reviews policy and legislative matters with the state transportation departments, congressional staff, and the executive branch. Joung also serves as deputy director of the AASHTO Center for Excellence in Project Finance, which provides education and research on transportation finance to states. Before joining AASHTO in 2007, Joung held transportation planner and analyst positions between 2001 and 2007 with the Federal Highway Administration's headquarters and division offices (in Virginia, Connecticut, New Hampshire, and New Jersey).

Robert Poole is director of transportation policy and Searle Freedom Trust Transportation Fellow at the Reason Foundation. He has advised the Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush administrations. Poole cofounded the Reason Foundation with Manny Klausner and Tibor Machan in 1978 and served as its president and CEO from then until the end of 2000. He is a leader in privatization policy and is credited as the first person to use the term "privatization" to refer to the contracting-out of public services. He is likewise the author of the first-ever book on privatization, Cutting Back City Hall (Universe Books, 1980). Poole is an expert and pioneer in surface-transportation policy and has advised numerous government agencies. His 1988 policy paper proposing privately financed toll lanes to relieve congestion directly inspired California's landmark private tollway law (AB 680), which authorized four pilot toll projects including the successful 91 Express Lanes in Orange County, CA. More than 20 other states and the federal government have since enacted similar public-private partnership legislation.

Stan Veuger is a resident scholar at AEI.  His academic research focuses on political economy and applied microeconomics, and has been published in The Quarterly Journal of Economics.  He writes frequently for popular audiences on a variety of topics, including policy uncertainty, Obamacare, and tax policy. He is a regular contributor to The National Interest, U.S. News & World Report, and AEIdeas, AEI’s policy blog.  Before joining AEI, Dr. Veuger was a teaching fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard College, and Universitat Pompeu Fabra.  He is a board member of the Netherland-American Foundation in Washington and a senior editor at The Bulwark, a quarterly public policy journal, and was a National Review Institute Washington Fellow.

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AEI Participants

 

R. Richard
Geddes
  • Rick Geddes is associate professor in the Department of Policy Analysis and Management at Cornell University. His research fields include private infrastructure investment through public-private partnerships, postal service policy, corporate governance, women's property rights, and antitrust policy. He is a Research Associate at the Mineta Transportation Institute, and a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. He was a Fulbright Senior Scholar at Australian National University in Canberra in the fall of 2009, and a Visiting Researcher at the Australian Government's Productivity Commission in the spring of 2010. His research focused on Australian public-private partnerships in both positions. Geddes teaches courses at Cornell on corporate governance and the regulation of industry.

    In addition to his teaching and research at Cornell, Geddes served as a commissioner on the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission, which submitted its report to Congress in January 2008. He has held positions as a senior staff economist on the President's Council of Economic Advisers, Visiting Faculty Fellow at Yale Law School, and National Fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.

    In 2008, Geddes received the Kappa Omicron Nu/Human Ecology Alumni Association Student Advising Award. His published work has appeared in the American Economic Review, the Journal of Regulatory Economics, the Encyclopedia of Law and Economics, the Journal of Legal Studies, the Journal of Law, Economics, and Organization, the Journal of Law and Economics, the Journal of Law, Economics, and Policy, and Managerial and Decision Economics, among others.

  • Email: [email protected]
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