Killing the Myth of the ‘More Shovel-Ready’ Road Stimulus, Part II

It has become one of the most enduring anecdotes surrounding the Obama administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus law: Democrats’ contention that White House adviser Larry Summers sliced transit aid by more than half, to $8.4 billion, out of concerns that projects were not "shovel-ready" enough.

Shovel_ready.jpg(Photo: DMI Blog)

Has Summers been vindicated by the data? Streetsblog Capitol Hill reported last month that as of August 31, transit stimulus money was getting spent at a higher rate than the $27.5 billion in highway stimulus cash. Even when factoring in transportation projects that were out for bid but not yet begun, state-level reports to Congress found that transit and highways were on the same footing.

Okay … but things could have changed in September, right? The House transportation committee released updated stimulus spending reports yesterday, as it happens, and they show that transit stimulus spending is still outpacing highway stimulus.

Streetsblog Capitol Hill’s analysis found $627.7 million in transit aid spent by the states, or 7.5 percent of the total pot. Highway stimulus spending totaled $1.64 billion, or 6 percent of the entire fund for roads and bridges.

We’ll continue crunching the monthly numbers as they are released — or until Summers issues an unlikely mea culpa. In the meantime, check out video of Rep. Pete DeFazio’s (D-OR) no-holds-barred take on this issue after the jump.

  • Jon

    this is very misleading. A great portion of the money spent by transit to this point has been for the simple purchase of busses. Needed but barely stimulating. Infrastructure projects take longer to get started, but are finally getting going, and provide far more jobs.

  • “Shovel ready” is a red-herring. This has nothing to do with shovel-ready. This is the question of the century. Will the U.S. continue down the failed path or break away from fossil-fuel/autosprawl dominance. The answer from the federal government, apparently, is “continue down the failed path.” Don’t expect to fight this battle in congress or the executive branch. There are only 600-some people to buy and/or intimidate, and the fossil-fuel industry has already taken care of that little task. Else why spend billions protecting natural gas pipeline routes in central Asia when with the same billions we could have subways with red carpets and chandeliers, and wouldn’t care if China and Russia charged high prices for natural gas.

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