Will Obama’s Transportation Jobs Plan Avoid Funding Sprawl?

USDOT has made public the breakdown of President Obama’s $50 billion plan to create jobs through transportation infrastructure investment. The administration says: “It will put people to work upgrading 150,000 miles of road, laying/maintaining 4,000 miles of train tracks, restoring 150 miles of runways, and putting in place a next-generation air-traffic control system that will reduce travel time and delays.”

Obama announcing the American Jobs Act. Photo: ##http://www.shrm.org/Advocacy/GovernmentAffairsNews/HRIssuesUpdatee-Newsletter/Pages/091611_1.aspx##SHRM##

Specifically, they lay out the numbers:

  • $27 billion for rebuilding roads and bridges
  • $9 billion for repairing bus and rail transit systems
  • $5 billion for projects selected through a competitive grant program
  • $4 billion for construction of the high-speed rail network
  • $2 billion to improve airport facilities
  • $1 billion for a NextGen air traffic control system

It’s encouraging to see the words “upgrading” and “rebuilding” when it comes to roads, indicating that the administration might be adhering to a fix-it-first approach to transportation spending. But, as we mentioned last week, the bridge Obama highlighted recently as a prime target for jobs-bill money isn’t actually in need of repair — transportation officials just want to widen it to allow more traffic to go through faster.

Certainly, the administration has shown a desire to attack the maintenance backlog in the country, but that doesn’t guarantee that highway expansions and sprawl projects won’t get a slice of the “rebuilding” pie.

That said, it’s good to see the plan includes $5 billion for projects funded through a competitive grant program (think TIGER). And it also hits a somewhat more equitable balance between rail/transit and roads than Congressional transportation bills generally do.

The president’s plan also includes an infrastructure bank, funded with $10 billion seed money. The administration says projects will be evaluated on the basis of how badly they’re needed and how much they would help the economy.

Some have said over the last couple of weeks that the I-bank concept is in trouble after the GOP pounced on the Solyndra loan story, in which a solar company filed for bankruptcy soon after receiving half a billion dollars in government-backed loans. Experts say the infrastructure bank proposal would vet projects well and protect taxpayers from risk.

  • Clutch J

    From here, Obama’s plan looks like Fix-it-First. Let’s get his back.

  • Jerard Wright

    I love this, because the plan is Pro-active while getting Republicans defensive.

  • Most likely, the plan will fund sprawl and anti-sprawl mechanisms at the same time. The administration doesn’t have a coherent transportation policy; it has a preference for clean transportation, but it has no real desire to rock boats about the gas tax, road tolling, parking, zoning, etc. This is the same administration whose idea about clean transportation is to fund high-speed rail (meh but okay) and electric car battery plants (terrible).

  • I like Obama, but he’s way off in boosting high-speed rail. Amtrak should be a cautionary tale.
    http://floppingaces.net/2011/09/27/is-amtrak-a-model-of-how-high-speed-rail-will-be-managed-reader-post/

  • Joe

    The money America invests in infrastructure is peanuts for a country of 300 million

  • DSchoen2

    American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

    From here it looks like he wants to pay for the work we already
    paid for but didn’t get done. We already paid $105.3 billion for this
    why didn’t it get done, someone got the money ewe get the bill. Only
    a fool would pay twice for the same thing

    Infrastructure we just spent $105.3 billion on Infrastructure, why
    would anyone want to pay for this again!

    Infrastructure Investment Total: $105.3 billion

    Transportation*/

    Total: $48.1 billion,[40]
    some in the form of Transportation Income Generating Economic
    Recovery (TIGER) Grants

    $27.5 billion for highway
    and bridge
    construction
    projects

    “It will put people to work upgrading
    150,000 miles of road,President
    Obama’s $50 billion plan

    $6.9 billion for new equipment for
    public transportation projects (Federal
    Transit Administration)

    $1.5 billion for national surface
    transportation discretionary grants

    $1.3 billion for Amtrak
    laying/maintaining 4,000 miles of train
    tracks,President
    Obama’s $50 billion plan

    $1.1 billion in grants for airport
    improvements

    $750 million for the construction
    of new public rail transportation systems and other fixed guideway
    systems.

    $750 million for the maintenance

    of existing public transportation
    systems

    $200 million for FAA upgrades to
    air traffic control centers and towers, facilities, and equipment
    restoring 150 miles of runways, and putting in
    place a next-generation air-traffic control system that will reduce
    travel time and delays.” President
    Obama’s $50 billion plan

    $100 million in grants for improvements to domestic shipyards

    USDOT has made public the breakdown of
    tPresident
    Obama’s $50 billion plano create jobs through transportation
    infrastructure investment. The administration says: “It will put
    people to work upgrading 150,000 miles of road, laying/maintaining
    4,000 miles of train tracks, restoring 150 miles of runways, and
    putting in place a next-generation air-traffic control system
    that will reduce travel time and delays.”

    Water, sewage, environment, and public lands

    Total: $18 billion[41]

    $4.6 billion for the Army
    Corps of Engineers for environmental restoration, flood
    protection, hydropower, and navigation infrastructure projects

    $4 billion for the Clean
    Water State Revolving Fund wastewater treatment infrastructure
    improvements (EPA)

    $2 billion for the Drinking Water
    State Revolving Fund drinking water infrastructure improvements
    (EPA)

    $1.38 billion for rural drinking
    water and waste disposal projects

    $1 billion to the Bureau
    of Reclamation for drinking water projects for rural or
    drought-likely areas

    $750 million to the National
    Park Service

    $650 million to the Forest
    Service

    $600 million for hazardous waste cleanup at Superfund
    sites (EPA)

     

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