Fuel tax pauses, why U.S. transit projects cost so much, and EVs saving lives

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On this week’s Talking Michigan Transportation podcast, a semi-regular conversation with Lloyd Brown, formerly director of communications at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and now with the consulting firm, HDR.
Topics include:
Fuel tax pauses
Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s veto of a bill to pause the state tax on gas and diesel fuel. Meanwhile, the governor signaled support for a temporary freeze on the sales tax on fuel.
Governors and lawmakers in several other states are implementing or debating similar measures, but Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson said this week he would not support lowering his state’s 24.8 cent gas tax.
Transit infrastructure building costs
An in-depth look by Marketplace at the soaring cost of building transit infrastructure in the U.S. According to a 2021 Eno Center analysis, the U.S. spent an average of 50 percent more on a per-mile basis for both at-grade and tunnel transit systems than other peer countries. Highways and roads are costly, too.
From the story: “We do spend a lot more money here in this country, and it seems to be particularly acute in New York. But the kind of a cost per mile of building new transit, you know, is substantially higher than other developed countries with similar economies and democratic structures,” said Paul Lewis, policy director of the Eno Center for Transportation, a nonprofit think tank.
The reasons are many and varied, but one expert cites the attention to ongoing maintenance and rebuilding that is prioritized in other countries.
“In Paris, for instance, they’ve been continually building and improving and upgrading and expanding their [subway] system, you know, for about a century now. While in New York, we basically took 60 to 70 years off, and we’re not sort of maintaining our system,” Eric Goldwyn, assistant professor and program director of the transportation and land use program at NYU Marron, told Marketplace.
Electric vehicles (EVs) and saving lives
A major shift to EVs and a clean power grid in the U.S. could save tens of thousands of lives over the next few decades, according to a new report by the American Lung Association.
A story in The Verge says a drop in pollution from tailpipes and power plants would prevent up to 110,000 premature deaths by 2050, the report projects. It would also avoid 2.8 million asthma attacks and 13.4 million lost workdays. All in all, that would amount to $1.2 trillion in public health benefits.

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