There’s a pretty good New York Times story this morning on the conflicting nature of federal policies for congestion reduction. The piece notes that DOT is allocating $850 million toward urban traffic reduction, while the federal government simultaneously gives commuters a parking tax break worth about $150 million annually. Cross-purposes, people! But the Times story would be markedly better if it included another number or two for people to chew on. For example, the feds spend about $35 billion every year on highways. If I had to speculate about which factors contributed most to car commuting, I’d probably lean toward that figure as a tad more important than the parking subsidy. And obviously, that’s far from the only large chunk of highway money. Throw in state and local spending on pavement, along with all the money dedicated to traffic enforcement, and whatever goes toward ensuring a steady supply of gasoline, and the peculiar pattern of American urban development stops looking so mysterious.