GOP Selects Site Next to TIGER-Funded Greenway for RNC Convention

Some Republican lawmakers really can’t stand TIGER, the Obama Administration’s competitive grant program for innovative transportation projects, which has funded several local initiatives to improve transit, biking, and walking over the past few years. Right now, Republicans are fighting to keep TIGER funding out of an appropriations bill — even though demand for the program has been overwhelming. In the last round of funding, nearly 700 applications were received requesting $10.2 billion, with only $500 million available for about 50 projects.

Tampa's Riverwalk, recent TIGER grant recipient, shown with the site of the Republican National Convention in the background. How ironic! Photo: ##http://tampaiam.blogspot.com/2007/11/tampa-mad-dogs-riverwalk-cigars-fly.html##Tampa I am##

But here’s the funny thing. If you didn’t know how much the GOP leadership has fought against funding for bike- and pedestrian-oriented projects, you might think they actually like them, based on their choice for the Republican National Convention this year. Republicans have chosen the Tampa Bay Times Forum in Florida as the site for their quadrennial convocation. Interestingly, the sports arena is adjacent to an important local amenity: the 2.6-mile Tampa Riverwalk, recipient of a $11 million TIGER grant just last month.

The funding will help fill in gaps in the greenway, which serves a downtown district that’s on a nice upward trajectory. A 20-story office building will soon be rising next to the RNC convention site — the first to be built in downtown Tampa in 20 years.

Maybe all the convention locations directly next to giant highway and bridge projects were booked?

  • Bolwerk

    In all fairness, there is a strong possibility that most Republikans are too obese to use bike paths and probably can’t make comfortable use of public transit either. 

  • Zmapper

    What an incredibly biased article against Republicans, who we should be making more efforts to reach out to. Republicans can support transit, if it is marketed correctly to them. Instead of going on about how transit could lower your “carbon footprint”, focus on how transit could lower your taxes. State that 90% of all bus routes in the UK are commercially operated. Focus on how Democratic-supported zoning mandates, FDR-era corporate restrictions, heavy taxation, and overbuilt highways killed PRIVATE transit operators.

    This has to be the biggest downfall of the transit and streets movement, in that they automatically assume Democrats are gifts from God and Republicans are evil demon monsters. Such assumptions are not true, as well-liked Democratic party member Cuomo is currently attempting to kill any form of transit across an important bridge in his state. 

    What city has better transit; Democratic Rochester, NY, or Republican Salt Lake, UT? They both have about the same number of residents, but guess which city will have 100 miles of rail service, frequent bus routes down most streets, and service that can actually get you anywhere to anywhere? 

    For example, consider Utah’s 1st district, one of the most conservative in the nation. Such a district is naturally represented by a staunch conservative, Rob Bishop. Look at what projects he requested be included in MAP-21 (http://robbishop.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=128260)

    Well golly gee, the first two projects involve LIGHT RAIL! Surely this conservative made a typo somewhere, or registered with the wrong party, or maybe your preconceived notions about Republicans and Democrats are wrong.

    Each party has about 1/3 of the voting public, while Indies and third parties combined equal the other 1/3. If you write to the exclusion of 1/2 of the public, don’t be surprised when transit projects fail to pass. It is possible to get nearly all members of the public to support transit, you just have to market it correctly.

  • Eric McClure

    Sorry. I don’t see how this is biased.  And I don’t like Status Cuomo.

  • egk

    Zmapper makes excellent points: there are very good traditionally Republican reasons for supporting public transit, and many traditional Republicans have supported transit and pedestrian projects for exactly these reason in the past.  What this article  points out is that the current reactive, negative Republican congress has given up supporting these values (and finding common good with Democrats) for obstructionism.  As a Democrat I find the abdication of their values by Republicans irritating.  I want Republicans to be pointing out how to do better cost controls for transit projects, how to use market mechanisms to assure they are run efficiently, how bike commuting saves taxpayer dollars.  Instead what we have heard in recent years is simply a an ideological “no” to transit, bikeshare, complete streets and a host of other things that this blog supports.

  • Ben Kintisch

    Well put, egk.
    Whether Republican or Democrat, many politicians will lambast government spending they don’t like but then support it when they see it benefits the constituents who vote for them. A friend recently pointed out that in this current political climate, the creation of the National Parks would be impossible, derided from the right as “socialist” or worse yet, “European.” Needless to say, folks from both parties enjoy the benefits of the National Parks.
    I think the point Angie was making is that TIGER grants have helped to spur real estate and business development in Tampa and other cities. This is a useful message to share with our elected officials. If they don’t want to support biking or pedestrian safety, fine, but most elected officials, regardless of party, like the idea of enhancing the business climate.
    And the comment about obese Republicans is unfortunate. We want to encourage folks to try out new ideas by being positive and kind, not by name-calling and stereotyping. That only makes our advocacy community look foolish and infantile.

  • vnm

    I think the point of this article is that bike and ped projects may not look good on paper if your metric is “how many vehicles does this project serve per day,” as many anti-TIGER Republicans might. But if your metric is “how does this project improve an area’s quality of life and attract businesses and activity,” then these projects actually look a lot better. The article makes that case that even people who bash TIGER actually subconsciously appreciate the benefits, even if they don’t consciously. 

  • vnm

    Or here’s another way of phrasing it: Even people who want to fund six-lane exurban cloverleafs don’t want to be near them themselves, at least when it comes time to get together to conduct business.

  • Bolwerk

    there are very good traditionally Republican reasons for supporting
    public transit, and many traditional Republicans have supported transit
    and pedestrian projects for exactly these reason in the past.

    Pretty much any traditional Republican who has been paying attention is a Democrat now. – which explains perfectly the Democrats’ hostility to sensible public transportation.  The only thing you can say about them is they’re willing to throw us a bone, while the TeaRepublickan Party simply sees transit users as someone to leech and shit on.

  • Pdclkg

    Watch out before they Republicans rename the Tampa Riverwalk “Entrepreneur Alley” 

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