Stim Cash Gone Bad: Feds Fund Houston’s Highway to Nowhere

holzer.jpgRobin Holzer. Photo: New York Times.
Reuters just wrapped up a two-day "Infrastructure Summit" and published a great collection of stories about the state of transportation policy in the U.S. I especially like this piece, featuring Robin Holzer of the Houston-based Citizens' Transportation Coalition, who does a great job illustrating some of the major deficiencies that the federal stimulus bill failed to address:
Under the current system that U.S. President Barack Obama has maintained, at least for now, the U.S. government will pay as much as 80 percent of the multibillion dollar cost of a proposed 180-mile ring road around Houston -- its fourth such loop -- even though it serves a thinly populated rural area.

In contrast, an expansion of the city's light-rail system is only eligible for getting 50 percent of the cost paid by the federal government, she said.

Yet more than 147,000 people live within a half-mile of the ten stations on the light rail system, Holzer said.

To demonstrate the low demand for the new ring road, Holzer displayed a picture of its empty lanes that she said she took at 5 p.m. one weekday -- a typical rush hour in urban areas.

"It's a boondoggle highway in the middle of nowhere," she said. "We need to invest our money where the people are."