But who should pay for the roads?

No, we’re not going to get drawn into the “deep” libertarian argument over whether building roads is a proper role of government. Rather, the more relevant question is whether New Mexico State government which has been inundated with money from the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin should be doing more to fund infrastructure that is required to keep that oil boom going.

New Mexico Transportation Secretary Sandoval recently visited the Permian to talk about roads and infrastructure. While he did say a lot of things about putting money into basic road projects in the area he also seemed to make a plea for more federal spending in the region and even said, “We have approached New Mexico oil and gas companies for public-private partnerships and we think it’s appropriate for them as individual companies to come to the table and provide money for construction.”

This drove the Rio Grande Foundation to submit the following response which was published in the Current-Argus on August 27, 2019.

It is truly mind-blowing and somewhat offensive that DOT Secretary would visit Eddy County to discuss roads and plead poverty.

Options for road funding seem to include going after federal dollars and “approaching New Mexico oil and gas companies for public-private partnerships.”

We all (yes, even in Albuquerque) are aware of the infrastructure challenges in SE New Mexico. It is also clear that New Mexico is awash in oil and gas revenues thanks largely to the Permian Basin and Eddy County.

There are a variety of ways to make limited road dollars go further including (but not limited to) public-private partnerships and repeal of New Mexico’s artificial “prevailing wage” on construction projects. But, the State has more than enough money to maintain and improve roads throughout our State and especially in SE New Mexico. In fact it has record amounts of money thanks to oil and gas.

Rather than going to Washington or asking oil and gas companies to contribute to the most basic of all government-provided goods (infrastructure), the Lujan-Grisham Administration and the Legislature should direct a bit of the oil and gas largesse to maintain the infrastructure needed to make this boom possible.

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2 Replies to “But who should pay for the roads?”

  1. Have been working in Carlsbad for a spell. Yes the roads there appear largely unchanged since the seventies, and many likely are even older such as the four lane stretch of 285 south of Carlsbad. All through traffic is directly pushed through town. Believe most transportation departments in other states, if they had such a situation, as exists in Carlsbad, and Hobbs, would have constructed Interstate grade bypasses years, in not decades ago.
    The base course (directly under the asphalt) is visually breaking up on many routes – 31, 62, 128, 180, and 285 to name some of them. Guardrails are being torn down and not replaced. This is due to the abundance of heavy trucking in the area, overwhelming the archaic road system.
    Yes a large percentage of this “windfall” if one chooses to call it that, needs to come back to SE New Mexico to completely rebuild the highways, and also to build new ones, built to high standards, not Pete Rahn standards. Not that long ago – $750 million was found to build a pet train and a fantasy spaceport. For a handful of elite individuals. What about investing in an area that produces fuel for the nation, and thousands of jobs for thousands if not tens of thousands of working class people?
    There have been some influential, and wealthy individuals from the area – Skeen, Teague, Yates and Pearce. One has to wonder – why didn’t they advocate for better highways??

  2. Saw a bumper sticker recently, on an electric vehicle:
    “If you don’t like Socialism, stay off our roads.”
    Here I was under the misapprehension that Capitalism built our roads.
    And everything else.
    We need vehicle inspections again (Oh, the humanity!),with odometer taxes on electric vehicles; 15 cents per mile ought to help catch us up.
    Why is Musk yet receiving the $7000+ benefit of selling each of his cars?
    At $40k a pop, the poor of course are deriving great benefit.

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