Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Infrastructure Regulation: How Much is Too Much?

This week, a decades-long push to heighten domestic train safety may get derailed in Congress. After a 2008 train accident in California, lawmakers heralded the mandate that all trains be equipped with positive braking control- aimed at preventing collisions. Now, with the recent focus on domestic spending and the national debt, GOP lawmakers and the railroad lobby are fighting tooth and nail to remove it. While infrastructure spending is not that controversial of an outlet for government funds, the imposition of regulations and mandates often add costs that are not explicit. The addition of this regulation would cost the railroad over $10 billion- during a time where they are burdened by rising fuel costs, declining passengers, and possibly reduced subsidies. Furthermore, the government provides some of the funds for the project. Although almost all citizens recognize the backward nature of the American rail system, excessive regulation is always a prime target for lawmakers. Or is it something more? Signaling a desire to slash infrastructure spending as a whole- rather than simply regulations? If so, we might see gridlock becoming even more of an issue in the years to come as the issue of infrastructure is thrust to the forefront.

1 comment:

  1. This instance of Gridlock creates more of a moral dilema than most cases. Rail industry standards and upgrades to the rail systems are required to provide safety for passengers of US railways. By delaying the decision to fund upgrades, safety upgrades are being postponed, putting more individuals at risk. It is about more than economics and spending. By making a more hasty decision to fund the project and make repairs, or cut funding all together, it allows rail operators to fix the problem, or come up with a different solution without the $10 billion of funding.