Planet earth vs. roads: The epic conflict that will define the future of the world – Salon.com

L.A. Road Network

The great age of road-building is only beginning. By 2050, we will have added 15 million miles of new road to the planet — a 60 percent increase in four decades over our current total, amassed over the past 5,000 years. Nine-tenths of that network will be built in the developing world – in the basins of the Amazon and Congo Rivers, and the jungles of South Asia and Oceania.

via Planet earth vs. roads: The epic conflict that will define the future of the world – Salon.com.

Only 5.2% of Highway Funds Used to Build New Roads | CNS News

Set up in 1956, the Highway Trust Fund uses federal excise taxes on fuel to provide money for the construction and maintenance of federally controlled roads. The government also funds the HTF through truck-related taxes.

“Receipts from the HTF are derived from two main sources: federal excise taxes on motor fuels (gasoline, diesel, and special fuels taxes) and truck-related taxes (truck and trailer sales, truck tire, and heavy-vehicle use taxes)” according to the Jan. 16 report. “Motor fuels tax receipts constitute the single largest source of HTF revenue. The Highway Account receives the majority of the tax receipts allocated to the fund.”

In other words, the more gas taxes a motorist pays to the federal government, the more he or she is paying into the HTF.

According to Treasury Statements from FY 2009-2011, the U.S. government received approximately $106.9 billion in excise taxes that went to the HTF.

A May 2012 report from the Congressional Budget Office  noted that for much of the past decade, the Highway Trust Fund’s outlays have exceeded receipts. In recent years, the shortfall has been covered by transfers from the U.S. Treasury’s general fund.

“Policies that are designed to reduce gasoline consumption, including those that would impose stricter standards for the fuel economy of vehicles, could decrease revenues for the trust fund and thus could add to the shortfall,” the CBO said.

On July 6, 2012, President Obama signed into law the “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act” (MAP-21), which authorized $40.4 billion from the HTF for highway projects in FY 2013, and another $41 billion for FY 2014.

Although the GAO report only analyzed the use of HTF funds between FY 2009-2011, MAP-21 now requires GAO to report on instances when HTF money is not used for construction and maintenance of highways and bridges.

via Only 5.2% of Highway Funds Used to Build New Roads | CNS News.

Canada’s Crashiest Street Claims A Life And Another Audi

It was less than a year ago that we reported a serious crash at the bottom of Vancouvers Cambie Street after a utility pole in seemingly the worst place split an Audi in half without killing anyone — the latest accident in the same spot where more than a dozen cars have crashed since the early 90s.

Dramatic fatal crashes are so sadly common that we rarely report on them here, but this particular street seems to need some attention. According to Douglas, in the last 20 years they’ve lost three fire hydrants, multiple poles, and had various vehicles end up in their front lawn.

via Canadas Crashiest Street Claims A Life And Another Audi.

Snow and ice make China’s Mount Hua pilgrimage especially dangerous

The five peaks of Mount Hua have been vertical sanctuaries for monks, hermits, and spiritual seekers, especially Taoists, for centuries, but to get to them pilgrims must cross treacherous trails, such as those made from links of chain and wooden planks joined by iron staples. And now with winter approaching, it’s the most dangerous time of year to attempt what could be the most dangerous hike in the world. All five peaks are joined by steep, narrow trails, stairs, and ladders, and dotted with temples and lookout points. Though some peaks involve riskier ascents than others, all hikes require slow and steady climbing along the trails, or you’ll risk a speedy decent. Numerous visitors have embarked on the hike and never returned, although the Chinese government isn’t saying how many.

via Snow and ice make China’s Mount Hua pilgrimage especially dangerous.

BIG BROTHER’S LISTENING – The Daily

The era of private conversations on city buses — and even on San Francisco’s iconic streetcars — may be coming to an end.  Government officials are quietly installing sophisticated audio surveillance systems on public buses across the country to eavesdrop on passengers, according to documents obtained by The Daily. Plans to implement the technology are under way in cities from San Francisco to Hartford, Conn., and Eugene, Ore., to Columbus, Ohio.Linked to video cameras already in wide use, the microphones will offer a formidable new tool for security and law enforcement. With the new systems, experts say, transit officials can effectively send an invisible police officer to transcribe the individual conversations of every passenger riding on a public bus.

 

via BIG BROTHER’S LISTENING – The Daily.

New Urbanism: Same Old Social Engineering : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education

New Urbanism’s tenets are simple: Suburban life undermines a sense of community. People spend too much time in their own private space and in their automobiles. Communities should be built at much higher densities. People should be able to walk from their homes to stores.They should be able to hop on a bus or a rail line rather than take their car. Every town should have a vibrant and hip central area, and there should be open space between towns. Cities should grow mostly within existing urban boundaries. Each urban area would have a core, with growth occurring in an orderly diameter around it. Neighborhoods should be diverse, ethnically and economically.

via New Urbanism: Same Old Social Engineering : The Freeman : Foundation for Economic Education.

NHTSA gets White House OK to mandate vehicle ‘black boxes’ | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is expected to finalize a long-awaited proposal to make event data recorders standard on all new vehicles.

In a notice posted Thursday, the White House Office of Management Budget said it has completed a review of the proposal to make so-called vehicle “black boxes” mandatory in all cars and trucks, clearing the way for NHTSA to publish its final regulation.

Nearly all vehicles currently have the devices.

via NHTSA gets White House OK to mandate vehicle 'black boxes' | The Detroit News | detroitnews.com.

Study: Electric Cars Made using Fossil Fuels Worse for the Environment than Conventional Cars

Is this a surprise? Often, the media and policy wonks discuss the consumer-side effects of environmental protection, but the environmental effects of manufacturing “green solutions” should not be taken lightly.

Electric cars actually harm the environment more than their gas-powered counterparts in many places, a new study from the Norwegian University of Science and Technology has concluded. That’s in part because electric car production “proved substantially more environmentally intensive,” the report said, according to the BBC. “The global warming potential from electric vehicle production is about twice that of conventional vehicles.”

That higher production cost might pay off if you live in an area powered by clean electricity sources—particularly if the car stays on the road a long time. But if your area gets its power from fossil fuels like coal or lignite, “it is counterproductive to promote electric vehicles,” the report said—they may even wind up causing more carbon emissions than gas burners. In addition, electric car batteries require toxic minerals like nickel, copper, and aluminum, increasing the potential for acidification.

via Study: Electric Cars Hurt the Environment – At least in areas that burn fossil fuels for electricity.

Temporary Fuel Trucks Arriving in NYC and Long Island – 10-gallon maximum | NBC New York

Temporary fuel trucks were being deployed in key locations in New York City and Long Island to help provide free gas to emergency vehicles and the public. Cars will be able to fill up directly from the 5,000 gallon trucks, which are being provided by the Department of Defense in coordination with the National Guard. There is a 10 gallon limit per vehicle.

via Amid Gas Shortage, Pleas for Help from Sandy Victims, Temporary Fuel Trucks Deployed to NYC and LI | NBC New York.