Eliminating the federal role would enhance state autonomy and streamline decision making. What’s more exciting is that it would also lead to more and better spending on transportation.

In poll after poll, Americans say they are willing to invest in roads and bridges, as long as it brings about improvements they will use. This isn’t just talk; state and local referendums on raising taxes or issuing debt to pay for transportation projects usually pass.

However, people don’t generally support raising the gas tax, for the simple reason that they think their current gas taxes, which are mostly federal, are wasted.

Thus, the federal gas tax has become both a ceiling and a floor. It makes raising state gas taxes unpalatable. And since states get back at least what they contribute, the tax encourages them to keep spending even if they don’t really need more roads.