I’ve read articles, letters to the editor and now a front page story on an issue that some claim to be a top priority; potholes. But the most important element in the debate is not discussed. Transportation is all about friction and weight. People are not taking personal responsibility for the problem.
The problems with street surfaces have grown in proportion with the growing size and number of our vehicles. Families used to share one car and drive fewer miles in vehicles that weighed 2700 pounds. Now 70% of vehicles sold locally are trucks and SUV’s. SUV’s average over 4500 pounds. The wear and tear of our roads is directly related to the weight of our vehicles.
A practical and appropriate method to address paying for our streets would be for DMV to sort their database and assess fee’s based on the curb weight of each registered owners vehicles. People who walk, bike and ride mass transit would not be required to pay for pothole repair.
Perhaps a “curb weight tax” will hasten the movement away from the large vehicles, which make roads unsafe for small, clean and efficient vehicles. Roads that support only lightweight vehicles need significantly fewer repairs.
But wait. Any spending on roads today is folly. We’ve exhausted the fuels and fouled our environment with a system based on internal combustion and diesel powered, room-sized, tank-like vehicles. Instead, utilize those assessments, fees and tax dollars in the design and construction of the infrastructure for our transportation future.
To the Editor, Eugene Register-Guard, March 3, 2008