Switching to electric vehicles will ruin our roads without a gas tax replacement

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What good are electric vehicles if our bridges and roads are still falling apart?

 Los Angeles, 2042. The sun rises on another day, the crystalline blue sky a reminder of how much smog levels have dropped since California banned the sale of gas-burning vehicles in the late 2030s.

Electric car adoption is still spreading across the country in fits and starts, but here in the cradle of zero-emissions rules, tax incentives and investments in a public fast-charging network have seen most drivers switch over. It’s been a long, tortuous process, but the future you were promised is finally here.

Anyway, time for work. You get dressed, slurp down some nutrient slurry and walk out to your Honda-E (in this vision, Honda eventually came to its senses and eventually released its cute EV in America). Easing out of your driveway, you make for the I-10 freeway—the same eight-lane disaster zone it’s always been—dodging giant potholes, random piles of gravel from abandoned roadworks projects and more than a few broken curb chunks. Ochre trails from rusting street signs and guardrails color the concrete everywhere.

Traffic still sucks; it’s been decades since Los Angeles attempted to repave its main arteries, let alone build a new one.

So, this is not exactly the future you were promised. Yet it’s a glimpse at a looming, oft-overlooked and critically important problem with the impending shift to EVs. Currently, a large majority of infrastructure projects (including mass transit) and maintenance in this country are funded by a single source: the gas tax, paid by consumers at the pump. An electric car makes no harmful emissions as it tootles along a road, but its driver also contributes nothing to that road’s upkeep while wearing it down all the same.

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