Policy analyst warns of 'mission creep'

Policy analyst warns of 'mission creep'

Policy analyst warns of 'mission creep'

The federal government has a new warning for states seeking billions of dollars from President Joe Biden's infrastructure law.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg and others are telling states to widen roads, adding, "You must protect the safety of pedestrians and bicyclists or risk losing the money."

"In a new report to Congress, the Transportation Department says it will aim to prioritize the safety and health of all the users of a roadway, not just cars," reports the Associated Press. "When distributing highway grants, the Transportation Department will favor road features such as bike paths, enhanced sidewalks, and transit lanes."

The new strategy comes in response to reported increases in U.S. traffic fatalities, including many black Americans and those outside of vehicles on roadways, such as bicyclists.

Ditch, David (Heritage) Ditch

"There has been what they call mission creep since the start of the interstate highway project under Dwight Eisenhower," comments David Ditch, a policy analyst for The Heritage Foundation.

According to him, what began as plans for freeways from coast to coast and border to border between all the major regions and cities has turned into funding for those freeways as well as local roads.

"Sometimes there were what are called arterials, where you have a multi-lane road with lots of intersections and sometimes lots of crosswalks," Ditch explains. "These are roads that are overwhelmingly local roads and that in many cases do have genuine safety issues."

So while there are times when it is appropriate for a local government to put in extra protections for bicyclists and pedestrians, Ditch says some local governments will go "a bit overboard" and, for example, take roads with two lanes each direction and turn it into one lane in each direction "and create enormous traffic snarls." He says California is one state where "that's been a big problem."

"My issue is that these local problems shouldn't have micromanagement or subsidies coming from Washington, D.C., which is precisely what the Biden administration's agenda entails," Ditch continues.

A couple of weeks ago, a massive agenda relating to road safety was released. The policy analyst thinks some of it would lead to "lots of wasteful spending [and] lots of unnecessary bureaucracy."

He believes the president is trying to use the infrastructure bill Congress passed in the fall to impose a mindset that is "far outside the bounds of what is actually contained in the law."