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James Oberstar

Action Alert: Help Rep. Oberstar Support Mass Transit

11:52 AM EST on December 22, 2008

JLO_2_Bike2th.jpgRep. James Oberstar, D-Minn.

A lot of Streetsblog Network members are already starting to wind down for the holidays, and we're all for that. But in Washington, where lawmakers are working on an economic stimulus bill, things are happening that could have major ramifications for many years to come.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting today that Minnesota Democratic Rep. James Oberstar, chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, is advocating that mass transit should receive a significant portion of the proposed transportation stimulus money:

He is suggesting Congress steer $30 billion to highways and bridgesand $12 billion to transit -- part of $85 billion being discussed fortransportation spending in the stimulus plan.

These figures may change, but it would be a significant policy shiftif Congress were to pass a bill that provides mass-transit fundingequal to 40% of the total spent on highways. For years, Congress hasfunded public-transportation projects at 25% of the level that has goneto highways, which is currently about $42 billion a year.

Oberstar is pushing against entrenched tradition on this point. Transportation for America has done some analysis of what states have asked for from a stimulus package, and the requests are heavily
weighted toward highways. So T4A is calling for us to take action and ask our Congressional representatives to put the money to smarter uses.

Let's throw some support behind Oberstar.

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