Thursday, July 16, 2009

Smart Growth America

Smart Growth America
New report: 120 days of stimulus spending
Within the $787 billion stimulus bill that became law in February, Congress provided states and Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs) with $26.6 billion in flexible funds for transportation projects. The first half of the funding was to be committed within 120 days, by Monday, June 29th.

Despite a multitrillion dollar backlog of roadway and bridge repairs throughout the

country, almost a third of the money — more than $6.6 billion — was committed to new

capacity roads and bridges rather than to repair and other preservation projects.

The nation is growing, and many areas need substantial improvements in connectivity. Many

places will need additional roadway capacity. However, given the enormous roadway and

bridge repair backlog, its costs in terms of vehicle repairs, its threat to human safety, and the

job‐creation advantages of roadway preservation projects, this magnitude of new

construction cannot said to be fulfilling the goals of the ARRA.

2. States generally failed to take advantage of a golden opportunity offered by the flexibility

in the STP to make progress on the huge public transportation backlog, and move

towards a more balanced transportation system.

Given the growing demand, the need for upgrading identified in the ASCE report, and the many

benefits of public transportation, the $189 million in STP funding allocated by the states so

far is grossly inadequate. Even when the dedicated, non‐STP funding for public transportation

is taken into consideration, commitments to transportation choice fall far short of the need.

The $600 million in STP funding commitments to non‐motorized transportation is better, but

also fails to meaningfully respond to the public’s need for more affordable and healthy

transportation options. This level of spending for bicycling and walking will have minimal

impact on the nation’s stock of bicycle and pedestrian routes, or on individual mobility.

3. We could get much more from our transportation spending, but the federal program

isn’t set up to ensure that we get the most from the money spent. With scarce resources,

large backlogs and increasing challenges, it’s an opportunity we can’t afford to waste.

The data make clear that with different funding choices, greater progress could have been

made combating climate change, increasing energy security, increasing mobility for elderly

and low income populations, and reducing the repair backlog. More jobs could have been

created, more quickly. However, the federal transportation program does not clearly

articulate what goals should be achieved with each tax dollar spent, nor how to compare

different spending options against those goals, nor how to ensure progress towards meeting

them. The result is wasted opportunity and money.