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#1 David

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 01:47 PM

Resolved: The United States federal government should substantially increase its transportation infrastructure investment in the United States. 

For the full balloting breakdown:
http://www.nfhs.org/...nt.aspx?id=6461
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#2 StraightExamination

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 01:54 PM

Bleh, boring. Was hoping for immigration on this one.
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#3 Dr. Love

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Posted 10 January 2012 - 02:32 PM

'daddy's lambo' aff

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#4 bRubaie

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 02:14 PM

The infrastructure/transport topic is awesome. If that sounds crazy to you, I understand; before researching things like the gas tax and the infrastructure bank, I would've been right there with you.

However, consider the idea of a Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) tax. Sounds pretty boring at first, right? (I used to think something like "Cars...taxes...highways...can someone please talk about foreign policy?!")

When this proposal was debated in the Financing Commission it was anything but boring. "The Financing Commission recommended a number of solutions, but the most talked-about was an eventual shift to a VMT tax to measure and charge for road use. Under the system, GPS devices would track how many miles, and on what roads, cars drive. Drivers would then pay per-mile fees, with the possibility of adjustments for vehicle weight, fuel efficiency and road type." Read more: http://www.politico....l#ixzz1c6uee7Ap

I don't think it takes much to show why this could be very interesting to debaters, too.

-- K debaters should be salivating (government GPS follows your car everywhere, collects the data AND charges you...does that link to something?)

-- Neat PIC ground (Different per-mile fees, adjustments for fuel efficiency, etc.)

-- Politics -- issues like infrastructure bank, VMT, gas tax, etc. are enormously politically controversial

-- Meaingful T debates -- do Affs which alter revenue collection with the *goal* of increasing investment (tax affs like VMT, gas tax, etc.) actually *increase investment*? I haven't heard the words "effects topicality" in years.

This trend isn't limited to VMT. There are lots of experts on each side writing about those details in infrastructure/transport. If you've ever asked yourself "what happened to high tech policy strategies?" this seems like the topic for you.

There is some good work on both infrastructure and the gas tax that's been published recently. Hope this stuff helps!
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#5 mchieco

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 05:15 PM

Bleh, boring. Was hoping for immigration on this one.


I thought the space topic would be boring too but I was quite wrong after just a few camp lectures. You'd be surprised what people can come up with.
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#6 OriginalRawrcat

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 06:08 PM

It may be extra topical to mandate this in a plan (actually, it would most definitely be extra topical), but if one could find a warrant for public works on something like overhauling the interstate or bullet trains, you could have one of the better and more feasible internal links to the economy.
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#7 Khanguy

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 06:16 PM

Teleportation Aff, Flying cars Aff, etc.
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#8 OriginalRawrcat

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 06:19 PM

Tunnel to China?
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#9 StraightExamination

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Posted 11 January 2012 - 07:35 PM

Glad it has potential, I hope I am wrong because I want a fun debate year. :)
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#10 bRubaie

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 06:46 AM

Debaters will have no trouble finding excellent evidence on this topic. I will post great articles as I find and read them.

Below are 15 cards from a recent Economist article entitled Life in the Slow Lane. This is a good primer for the topic, and the politics link (at the very bottom) and answers to the states counterplan are particularly good.

Defining the scope of the problem:
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
America, despite its wealth and strength, often seems to be falling apart. American cities have suffered a rash of recent infrastructure calamities, from the failure of the New Orleans levees to the collapse of a highway bridge in Minneapolis, to a fatal crash on Washington, DC’s (generally impressive) metro system. But just as striking are the common shortcomings. America’s civil engineers routinely give its transport structures poor marks, rating roads, rails and bridges as deficient or functionally obsolete. And according to a World Economic Forum study America’s infrastructure has got worse, by comparison with other countries, over the past decade. In the WEF 2010 league table America now ranks 23rd for overall infrastructure quality, between Spain and Chile. Its roads, railways, ports and air-transport infrastructure are all judged mediocre against networks in northern Europe.

It will get worse due to demographics
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
And worse looms. The country’s already stressed infrastructure must handle a growing load in decades to come, thanks to America’s distinctly non-European demographics. The Census Bureau expects the population to grow by 40% over the next four decades, equivalent to the entire population of Japan.

It is a badly underaddressed, underfunded problem
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
The Congressional Budget Office estimates that America needs to spend $20 billion more a year just to maintain its infrastructure at the present, inadequate, levels. Up to $80 billion a year in additional spending could be spent on projects which would show positive economic returns. Other reports go further. In 2005 Congress established the National Surface Transportation Policy and Revenue Study Commission. In 2008 the commission reckoned that America needed at least $255 billion per year in transport spending over the next half-century to keep the system in good repair and make the needed upgrades. Current spending falls 60% short of that amount.

Bad roads create tons of lost productivity; deaths
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
America is known for its huge highways, but with few exceptions (London among them) American traffic congestion is worse than western Europe’s. Average delays in America’s largest cities exceed those in cities like Berlin and Copenhagen. Americans spend considerably more time commuting than most Europeans; only Hungarians and Romanians take longer to get to work (see chart 1). More time on lower quality roads also makes for a deadlier transport network. With some 15 deaths a year for every 100,000 people, the road fatality rate in America is 60% above the OECD average; 33,000 Americans were killed on roads in 2010.

The economic impact if nothing is done could be staggering
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
Roads, bridges and railways used to be neutral ground on which the parties could come together to support the country’s growth. But as politics has become more bitter, public works have been neglected. If the gridlock choking Washington finds its way to America’s statehouses too, then the American economy risks grinding to a standstill.

Trains are light years behind
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
There is little relief for the weary traveller on America’s rail system. The absence of true high-speed rail is a continuing embarrassment to the nation’s rail enthusiasts. America’s fastest and most reliable line, the north-eastern corridor’s Acela, averages a sluggish 70 miles per hour between Washington and Boston. The French TGV from Paris to Lyon, by contrast, runs at an average speed of 140mph. America’s trains aren’t just slow; they are late. Where European passenger service is punctual around 90% of the time, American short-haul service achieves just a 77% punctuality rating. Long-distance trains are even less reliable.

Airports are...well, airports, and no one likes them
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
Air travel is no relief. Airport delays at hubs like Chicago and Atlanta are as bad as any in Europe. Air travel still relies on a ground-based tracking system from the 1950s, which forces planes to use inefficient routes in order to stay in contact with controllers. The system’s imprecision obliges controllers to keep more distance between air traffic, reducing the number of planes that can fly in the available space. And this is not the system’s only bottleneck. Overbooked airports frequently lead to runway congestion, forcing travellers to spend long hours stranded on the tarmac while they wait to take off or disembark. Meanwhile, security and immigration procedures in American airports drive travellers to the brink of rebellion.

Solvency mechanism: raise oil taxes
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
Some in Washington would rather take their cut further away from consumers. A tax on oil, rather than petrol, could be a little easier for consumers to stomach. America’s big oil producers signalled openness to a similar policy during negotiations over the ill-fated but bipartisan Kerry-Graham-Lieberman climate bill. It could return as a means to fund infrastructure.

Solvency mechanism: direct user fees
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
Economists press for direct user fees. An early Obama administration flirtation with a tax on miles driven attracted little support, but some cities have run, or are thinking of running, pilot schemes. Congestion charges present another possibility. State governments have increasingly turned to tolls to fund individual projects, but tolling inevitably meets stiff public resistance. Meanwhile, Manhattan’s attempt to duplicate the congestion charges of London and Stockholm failed to win the necessary political support, despite the offer of a generous federal subsidy in return for trying the experiment. An earlier attempt to auction scarce landing and departure slots at New York’s three large airports faced stiff resistance from airlines and was ultimately killed.

Solvency mechanism: infrastructure bank
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
Whatever the source of new revenue, America’s Byzantine funding system will remain an obstacle to improved planning. Policymakers are looking for ways around these constraints. Supporters of a National Infrastructure Bank—Mr Obama among them—believe it offers America just such a shortcut. A bank would use strict cost-benefit analyses as a matter of course, and could make interstate investments easier. A European analogue, the European Investment Bank, has turned out to work well. Co-owned by the member states of the European Union, the EIB holds some $300 billion in capital which it uses to provide loans to deserving projects across the continent. EIB funding may provide up to half the cost for projects that satisfy EU objectives and are judged cost-effective by a panel of experts.

American leaders hungrily eye the private money the EIB attracts, spying a potential solution to their own fiscal dilemma. But there are no free lunches. To keep project costs down, the bank must offer low rates, which depend in turn upon low capital costs. That may be impossible without government backing, but the spectacular failure of the two government-sponsored housing organisations, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, illustrates the dangers of such an arrangement. The EIB mitigates this problem by attempting to maximise public return rather than profit. To earn funding, projects must meet developmental and environmental goals, along with other requirements. But giving the bank a public mission would invite congressional oversight—and tempt legislators to meddle in funding decisions. The right balance of government support and independence may prove elusive.

Budget crises could give a boost to public-private partnerships. Partnerships can be a useful way to screen out poorly conceived projects that are unlikely to generate the promised returns. No private firm will bid to build and operate a project that will probably fail to cover its costs through toll or fare revenue. Well-designed contracts can also improve incentives by giving the construction firm a long-run interest in the project. Infrastructure projects built through public-private partnerships in Britain and Chile, where the arrangement is far more common than in America, have sometimes, though not always, been completed more cheaply and quickly than public plans.

AT: States Counterplan -- formula-determined block grant programs fail -- they create perverse incentives that DAMAGE infrastructure
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
The federal government is responsible for only a quarter of total transport spending, but the way it allocates funding shapes the way things are done at the state and local levels. Unfortunately, it tends not to reward the prudent, thanks to formulas that govern over 70% of federal investment. Petrol-tax revenues, for instance, are returned to the states according to the miles of highway they contain, the distances their residents drive, and the fuel they burn. The system is awash with perverse incentives. A state using road-pricing to limit travel and congestion would be punished for its efforts with reduced funding, whereas one that built highways it could not afford to maintain would receive a larger allocation.

Formula-determined block grants to states are, at least, designed to leave important decisions to local authorities. But the formulas used to allocate the money shape infrastructure planning in a remarkably block-headed manner. Cost-benefit studies are almost entirely lacking. Federal guidelines for new construction tend to reflect politics rather than anything else. States tend to use federal money as a substitute for local spending, rather than to supplement or leverage it. The Government Accountability Office estimates that substitution has risen substantially since the 1980s, and increases particularly when states get into budget difficulties. From 1998 to 2002, a period during which economic fortunes were generally deteriorating, state and local transport investment declined by 4% while federal investment rose by 40%. State and local shrinkage is almost certainly worse now.

AT: States Counterplan -- state programs are horribly mismanaged
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
States can make bad planners. Big metropolitan areas—Chicago, New York and Washington among them—often sprawl across state lines. State governments frequently bicker over how (and how much) to invest. Facing tight budget constraints, New Jersey’s Republican governor, Chris Christie, recently scuttled a large project to expand the railway network into New York City. New Jersey commuter trains share a 100-year-old tunnel with Amtrak, a major bottleneck. Mr Christie’s decision was widely criticised for short-sightedness; but New Jersey faced cost overruns that in a better system should have been shared with other potential beneficiaries all along the north-eastern corridor. Regional planning could help to avoid problems like this.

NEG -- Econ/Politics/potential Oil Prices link
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
The rehabilitation of America’s transport network will be neither easy nor cheap. To make the necessary repairs and upgrades, America will need to spend a lot more. In a deficit-conscious environment, that will require new revenue. The most straightforward first step would be a rise in fuel-tax rates, currently at 18.4 cents a gallon. But petrol-tax increases are even more unpopular than deficits, and rises may prove riskier as oil prices increase.

NEG -- Very good politics link
The Economist, '11 -- "Life in the slow lane," 4-28, http://www.economist.com/node/18620944
Mr Obama is thinking big. His 2012 budget proposal contains $556 billion for transport, to be spent over six years. But his administration has declined to explain where the money will come from. Without new funding, some Democratic leaders have warned, a new, six-year transport bill will have to trim annual highway spending by about a third to keep up with falling petrol-tax revenues. But Republicans are increasingly sceptical of any new infrastructure spending. Party leaders have taken to using inverted commas around the word “investment” when Democrats apply it to infrastructure.
Roads, bridges and railways used to be neutral ground on which the parties could come together to support the country’s growth. But as politics has become more bitter, public works have been neglected. If the gridlock choking Washington finds its way to America’s statehouses too, then the American economy risks grinding to a standstill.
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#11 Antonucci23

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 11:13 AM

Brian - I largely agree with you, but I don't think your states counterplan answers are all that great. I think fiat largely overwhelms "bickering" and "poor planning". The very marginal solvency deficit won't trump the elections link.

This is the fundamental problem with every domestic topic. Some affs can answer states, I am sure. However, that number will be small. Therefore, the topic will end up being quite narrowly constrained to things like "roads into Native American reservations" or "roads on military bases" or, potentially, affs that simply take the question of federal control on directly (although they still might lose pretty badly, since "politics" sounds more impactful than "infrastructure federalism" to me.)

If debaters and the judging pool can sack up and admit that states is a toxic argument, this might be a sweet topic. Otherwise, it will be OK, but nothing better than OK.
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#12 Coove

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Posted 12 January 2012 - 12:54 PM

I don't think fiat answers back the fact that most states are in massive budget crisis's right now and that any increase in transportation spending would either directly trade off with education spending or demand tax hikes. The state have no money and all but I think 3 are not allowed to deficit spend. I don't see states being a particularly good position next year unless it's a very low cost aff.
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#13 Antonucci23

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Posted 13 January 2012 - 10:48 PM

States CP can specify funding.
States CP can also fiat away deficit spending restrictions.
2NC can also amend to spike your state specific spending DA.

Not to be Mr. Olds McOlderson Getoffmylawn, but I've coached over 15 topics. On every domestic topic, states CP is central, at least in restraining aff case selection.

It's dumb, but there it is.
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#14 bRubaie

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Posted 14 January 2012 - 08:04 AM

I couldn't agree more! The states CP will feature prominently in most negative debates and I'm not excited about it. I am very excited about the potential of this topic and want to get debaters started early in thinking beyond the States CP. Here's to hoping that a devoted push by great instructors like Antonucci this summer can help the better angels of our nature prevail.

As a 2A on the Ag topic I thought of solvency deficits and theory arguments as working at cross-purposes. If the CP is "50 states all do the plan" then I think the Aff should be able to win that an unrealistic invented mechanism is theoretically undesirable. If they use an existing non-federal institution (National Governors Association, etc) then I think it should be possible to win a solvency deficit.
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#15 bRubaie

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 10:59 AM

The Reason-Rupe transportation poll, a random, national sample of 1,200 adults by telephone, raises some very interesting findings, particularly for politics debates.

Americans seem to strongly favor user-fees (like VMT) over tax increases (like the gas tax)
Reason Foundation, '11 - Right-leaning think tank, "77 Percent of Americans Oppose Raising the Gas Tax, Reason-Rupe Transportation Poll Finds," 12-20, http://reason.org/ne...tation-infrastr.
A majority of Americans believe new transportation projects should be paid for with user-fees instead of tax increases, according to a new national Reason-Rupe poll of 1,200 adults on cell phones and land lines.

Unsurprisingly, Americans hate taxes...
Reason Foundation, '11 - Right-leaning think tank, "77 Percent of Americans Oppose Raising the Gas Tax, Reason-Rupe Transportation Poll Finds," 12-20, http://reason.org/ne...tation-infrastr.
The Reason-Rupe poll finds 77 percent of Americans oppose increasing the federal gas tax, while just 19 percent favor raising the tax, which is currently 18.4 cents a gallon. The public thinks the government wastes the gas tax money it already receives. Sixty-five percent say the government spends transportation funding ineffectively, and just 23 say the money is spent effectively.

Surprisingly, they don't mind toll roads, particularly if they substantially alleviate traffic
Reason Foundation, '11 - Right-leaning think tank, "77 Percent of Americans Oppose Raising the Gas Tax, Reason-Rupe Transportation Poll Finds," 12-20, http://reason.org/ne...tation-infrastr.
The survey shows Americans believe new roads and highways should be paid for by the people driving on them: 58 percent of Americans say new roads and highways should be funded by tolls. Twenty-eight percent say new road capacity should be paid for by tax increases.

The Reason-Rupe poll finds broad support for user-fees. If a toll road would save drivers a “significant” amount of time, 59 percent of Americans say they would pay to use it. And 57 percent favor converting carpool lanes, or high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes, into high-occupancy toll (HOT) lanes. Voters are much-less supportive of variably-priced toll lanes, however. Half of those surveyed oppose, and 39 percent favor, variably-priced tolls that rise and fall with traffic levels.

The "free markets"/"private development" CP versus high-speed rail would likely have a good angle against politics
Reason Foundation, '11 - Right-leaning think tank, "77 Percent of Americans Oppose Raising the Gas Tax, Reason-Rupe Transportation Poll Finds," 12-20, http://reason.org/ne...tation-infrastr.
As the debate over high-speed rail continues in California and elsewhere, a solid majority of Americans, 55 percent, say the private sector should build high-speed train systems where it thinks riders will pay to use rail. Just 35 percent of Americans believe federal and state governments should build high-speed rail systems where they think the trains are needed.

However, they seem to like the "perm" as much as they like the CP
Reason Foundation, '11 - Right-leaning think tank, "77 Percent of Americans Oppose Raising the Gas Tax, Reason-Rupe Transportation Poll Finds," 12-20, http://reason.org/ne...tation-infrastr.
As governments at all levels look for ways to pay for transportation projects, public officials should note that 55 percent of Americans support using public-private partnerships to build critical infrastructure projects. Just 35 percent oppose using public-private partnerships to fund highways, airports and other infrastructure.
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#16 robllawrence

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Posted 16 January 2012 - 08:03 PM

It may be extra topical to mandate this in a plan (actually, it would most definitely be extra topical), but if one could find a warrant for public works on something like overhauling the interstate or bullet trains, you could have one of the better and more feasible internal links to the economy.


Why would you think that is extra topical? Aff is going to spend a ton of money building and repairing highways. Advantage one, we put people to work. Sounds OK to me.
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#17 OriginalRawrcat

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 10:42 AM

Why would you think that is extra topical? Aff is going to spend a ton of money building and repairing highways. Advantage one, we put people to work. Sounds OK to me.


It's arguably extra topical to mandate a public works program to work on whatever the case is. It could be argued as a specification of the workers, but the resolution mandates an increase in transportation infrastructure, to add legislation putting a bunch of people out of work doesn't necessarily fit within the resolution.

Perhaps I'm just too used to hearing nit picky t arguments.
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#18 robllawrence

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 03:36 PM

I don't have to specify who im hiring. My plan is build stuff. That's completely topical action. A result of which is that people get hired.
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#19 bRubaie

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Posted 25 January 2012 - 07:48 AM

In a follow-up to the Reason-Roupe poll, there is a debate about whether traffic congestion is good or bad for American cities.

Aff evidence/Traffic bad --

Traffic costs billions in lost employment and external costs -- destroys growth
Staley, '12 -- Samuel, "Traffic Congestion and the Economic Decline of Cities," Reason Foundation -- Free market oriented think tank, 1-5, http://reason.org/ne...nd-the-economic.

The slow cities King and Doig are advocating are missing a critical element -- the economic repercussions of slowing people down. The time spent stuck in traffic or on a slower commute or journey is time not spent shopping, eating at home with family, playing or working. Longer commutes limit the size, scope and depth of labor markets. Firms have less access to workers because workers generally don't look for jobs far from where they live. And it's well established among urban economists that workers will accept lower paying jobs in order to avoid too long of a commute. This isn't just theory. Real-world data supports the negative economic impacts of rising traffic congestion. A study by economist Kent Hymel appeared in the Journal of Urban Economics which linked traffic congestion to slower employment growth. Hymel examined traffic congestion and employment growth in 85 metropolitan areas between 1990 and 2003 and found evidence of rising regional traffic congestion choking employment growth. For example, a 50 percent reduction in congestion could boost employment by 10 to 30 percent in America's top 10 most congested cities. For Los Angeles, the most congested city in the U.S. in several measures according to the Texas Transportation Institute, a 10 percent increase in regional congestion reduced employment growth by 4 percent, according to Hymel's estimates. In short, Hymel writes, "congestion has a broad negative impact on economic growth." In Gridlock and Growth, a 2009 study published by Reason Foundation and University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Professor David Hartgen found shortening travel times to include a larger labor market would add billions of dollars to regional output and income in cities including Seattle, San Francisco, Salt Lake City, Detroit, Dallas, Denver, and Charlotte. A 10 percent reduction in travel times could boost production of goods and services by 1 percent, leading to tens of billions of dollars in higher income and output for those cities, Hartgen found.


Neg evidence/Traffic good
As a starting FYI: Some urban planners, however, say increased traffic congestion is good because it leads to people seeking alternatives like biking, public transportation etc. which has a positive effect on the environment.
**NOTE -- I only cut the basic explanation but didn't underline this because this author is setting up a straw person -- he is just citing arguments he will later refute. I have included links to the authors he is citing beneath the card which *are* very useful to cut evidence from
Staley, '12 -- Samuel, "Traffic Congestion and the Economic Decline of Cities," Reason Foundation -- Free market oriented think tank, 1-5, http://reason.org/ne...nd-the-economic.

Despite the public's concerns, a small but growing group of urban planners is vocalizing support for traffic congestion. They say it's a symptom of economic success. In fact, cities are now voluntarily opting to slow themselves down by embracing congestion. Salon.com writer Will Doig** notes that cities are doing this by encouraging non-automobile transportation modes such as bicycling, slowing cars with "traffic calming" devices, adopting "slow zones," encouraging "walkability" and replacing expressways with "lower-speed boulevards."
And Rod King***, the organizer of an advocacy group aiming to reduce London, England's speed limit to 20 miles per hour, says the "peripheral advantages" to slower cities include increased bicycling as roads become safer, less government spending since cities don't need to install speed bumps, and better air quality as less fuel is burned speeding between traffic lights. Add in lower fatality rates as cars travel more slowly and, King says, "putting on the brakes starts to look like a no-brainer."


**Doig writes in an excellent Salon column available here: http://www.salon.com...ster_than_cars/. Among the highlights:

There’s a growing awareness that cars could be a bigger urban menace than guns.

“(U)rbanist Patrick M. Condon asserted that slow streetcars would be better for Vancouver than faster rapid transit. His argument: A high-speed system is best if the main intention is to move riders quickly from one side of the region to the other. Lower operational speeds are better if your intention is to best serve city districts with easy access within them …” In other words, in dense urban neighborhoods, slower transit with more places to hop on and off can be more useful than a fast subway that makes a single stop.

"(W)e forget the difference between a street, where vibrant, valuable, low-speed development should flourish, and a road, which should quickly take us from one place to another. Instead, Marohn says, we’ve ended up with a bunch of “stroads” — four-lane arteries, lined with mini malls and parking lots, that are too fast to encourage good development, and too slow to efficiently move us in and out."


***King's cleverly named "20's plenty for us" group in the UK has a website -- perhaps not useful for cutting evidence outside of their 'myth-busting' section but an interesting read http://www.20splenty...g_the_myths.htm
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