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Ah, the tried-and-true roads & bridges argument.

No, I don't believe the government is necessary to do those things.

But if you look at actual government spending, these sorts of infrastructure projects are dwarfed by things like military spending, which could use a reduction.




"No, I don't believe the government is necessary to do those things."

I live on a very long (two miles) private road that I jointly build and maintain with an association, etc. There is no government role whatsoever, and we even have bridges.

So it would appear that my experience validates your libertarian fantasy world. Look - we're actually doing it!

I've got sour news for you. Even a wealthy, well educated collection of fair minded and well intentioned people find it very difficult to maintain a dirt/gravel road to an acceptable condition. It's very difficult and costly. We are right on the edge of success or failure in this maintenance.

Further, if we were to actually pave the road (a true fantasy) it would be completely, totally unthinkable with regard to cost. Asphalt is paid for by the square foot and it isn't cheap. When you drive by a very quick section of asphalt road being resurfaced ... say 200-400 meters or something - very short ... understand that that is millions of dollars in asphalt work. Millions.

Can you build some roads and bridges without the government ? Sure, of course you can. Will they approach, in any category, even the bare minimum acceptable standard that you hold ? No.


Hm. I understood that freeway (one of the most expensive roads in the world) was $1000 per foot. $5M per mile. I would expect asphalt to be much less.

Here's a link: http://www.dot.state.fl.us/planning/policy/costs/costs-D7.pd...

Florida says 2-lane roadway is $3.3M per mile. So a few hundred feed, costing millions? Nonsense.


> So a few hundred feed, costing millions? Nonsense.

1. Your parent actually actively maintains a private road, and has probably done their research...

2. It costs them so much because they just have a single road, so they can't amortize the cost over an entire city or country of roadway. Public utilities tend toward monopoly for exactly this reason -- providing the utility to any small fraction of society is enormously expensive.

Make no mistake, natural monopoly is what happens when you privatize utilities. Ever met a Comcast customer who feels anything short of contempt toward Comcast? Now imagine dealing with Comcast any time you need to drive to the grocery store. Or even leave your house.

3. Parent's numbers actually make sense when compared to Florida's, once you realize Florida has an entire state over which it can amortize costs.


Warm mixed asphalt roads should cost about $1M per mile. It's expensive, but it's not ludicrously expensive. If well done, in a warm environment, of low traffic, no truck levels, then you won't have to repave for upwards of a decade.

Source:

Maintenance a private road outside the USA. Labour is cheaper, however, everything else is more expensive so it balances out vs US numbers last time I checked.


(parent here)

Again, I was giving my own anecdotes about my own road, but then mid-comment switched to a hypothetical "stretch of road" that someone might drive by, being maintained, and in my mind I was thinking of a four-lane highway. It was unclear.

I will say, however, that with all due respect - things are more expensive here in California than they are in FL, so while 400 meters of four-lane @ the Florida rate posted above comes out to ~1.2 Million, it's probably a fair amount more in California.

It's expensive.


The Govt doesn't actually pave anything. Roads are a commodity. There are a half-dozen pavers in my small community of 50,000. If the costs are in the $100K per thousand feet, they are that for everybody.

Again, $M for a few hundred feet is nonsense.


Parent said METERS, not feet. So parent is saying maybe 8mil for a mile. Not insane to assume low volume work in a presumably remote area will be double or triple the price that the entire state of Florida can get.

Especially for a previously unpaved roadway with bridges that probably also needs widening, leveling, etc. That isn't patch work cleaning up existing paved road...

The number is high but not unfathomably so...

Anyways, either parent is telling the truth or not. But I find it hard to believe parent helps maintain a 2 mile private road and also you know better than him the cost of paving that particular road.


As has been said, road paving is a commodity business, so the reason why this particular road might be that expensive is probably that it's a remote road on difficult terrain.

Which raises the question: should this very expensive road, which is primarily used by members of this specific and admittedly wealthy community, be subsidized by the rest of (relatively) poor taxpayers of that state?


Yes. That's called infrastructure. Whenever America has 'subsidized' infrastructure, the nation has seen many fold return. Whether it was rural electrification, or secondary roads, or rural mail delivery, having it a given for everybody means anybody can assume a certain level of service. Commerce thrives on that.


I see the level of service argument. But, if an argument applies to roads or mail delivery, or landline phones, why does it not apply to fast internet service or cellular coverage or many other things, which have been doing just fine without centrally funded infrastructure?

Also, shifting the cost of such roads to everyone encourages even more construction in remote areas, which doesn't seem like a good thing to promote...


Ah, cell towers seem to benefit from some govt protection. We live in the country. The cell companies have to find land to place their towers on. They make an argument that, for emergency services, they're required to build the towers. So its inevitable, and we've just got to decide where they go up. Not whether they go up.

And actually, here in the country, there are many cell networks that do very poorly. Houses still have land lines mostly because connectivity can be very spotty. A govt-mandated tower utility would help that.

Lastly, its not about subsidizing. E.g. REC was not subsidized, just a protected class of business that was mandated to provide service to everyone in their area. Subscribers pay the whole freight. Its like insurance; those near the generation plant are kind of subsidizing those far away, but everybody gets service.


(parent here)

"Florida says 2-lane roadway is $3.3M per mile. So a few hundred feed, costing millions? Nonsense."

I was thinking of a stretch of highway or freeway - four lanes - when I asked the reader to "think of a stretch of road being worked on". Sorry - wasn't clear.

Also, I was measuring in meters. So, 400 meters of four-lane @ 6.6M per mile ... that's ~1.2M, give or take.

It's expensive.


> It's very difficult and costly. We are right on the edge of success or failure in this maintenance. Further, if we were to actually pave the road (a true fantasy) it would be completely, totally unthinkable with regard to cost. Asphalt is paid for by the square foot and it isn't cheap. When you drive by a very quick section of asphalt road being resurfaced ... say 200-400 meters or something - very short ... understand that that is millions of dollars in asphalt work. Millions. Can you build some roads and bridges without the government ? Sure, of course you can. Will they approach, in any category, even the bare minimum acceptable standard that you hold ? No.

1) If it's expensive to do for the private sector, it's expensive to do for the government, no part of the cost equation changes.

2) It only seems "cheaper" b/c the private sector would have to ask for money by providing enough value enough for you to part with your money, while government doesn't, and raises money by pointing guns at people. However, to avoid the free-rider problem, you can use assurance contracts to raise the construction money and tolls to pay for maintenance, similar to what governments would do anyways.

3) American infrastructure was rated a D+ by the ASCE, so in what way is having government the sole provider of infrastructure a guarantee of quality?

4) slightly unrelated, but do you really think we'd have the same level of urban sprawl, needing a car to get anywhere in suburbia and such a heavy reliance on fossil fuels if roads were built through market forces rather than government subsidy?


> 3) American infrastructure was rated a D+ by the ASCE, so in what way is having government the sole provider of infrastructure a guarantee of quality?

The same thing is true in most other parts of the world (i.e. who is financially responsible for building and maintaining the roads). In general you will find that the milder the climate is, the nicer the roads are.

> 4) slightly unrelated, but do you really think we'd have the same level of urban sprawl, needing a car to get anywhere in suburbia and such a heavy reliance on fossil fuels if roads were built through market forces rather than government subsidy?

It is already mostly financed through market forces by local governments and via various use taxes (e.g. fuel tax, property tax, etc)


Let's keep in mind we're talking about Italy here. So the knee-jerk "BUT DRONES" response is probably less accurate than if we were talking about the US or the UK or something.


Yes, let's indeed keep in mind that we're talking about Italy here.

http://www.voxeu.org/article/public-sector-inefficiency-and-...




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