This chapter illustrates many of the economic concepts discussed in previous chapters. First, road infrastructure exhibits the classic supply-side economic characteristics, which are commonly discussed in transportation, public welfare, and regulatory economics. The cost structure of supply and strong natural monopoly tendencies indicate that markets will fail to provide road infrastructure efficiently and that provision by either the government or a regulated monopolist will be necessary. In the United States, government provision dominates as the solution to this problem. Second, road infrastructure exhibit the demand-side economic characteristics explored in Chapters 4 and 5. Road infrastructure is mixed infrastructure that generate massive spillovers for society by enabling users to engage in an incredibly wide variety of productive activities that yield private, public, and social goods. The case for commons management is quite strong. Not surprisingly (given government provisioning), road infrastructure is managed openly as commons. Government provisioning alleviates supply-side objections to commons management, but two major concerns remain: congestion and the generation of substantial negative externalities from environmental pollution. The chapter shows how to address these significant concerns in nondiscriminatory ways that sustain the road infrastructure commons.
Keywords: road infrastructure, supply-side economics, demand-side economics, commons management, mixed infrastructure, government provisioning, congestion, negative externalities, environmental pollution
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