Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Transportation Capital Funding – The Next Battleground

America’s position in the global economy is rapidly being undermined by a rapidly deteriorating and drastically underfunded transportation system. Congress’ failure to act before the midterm elections on a long term reauthorization of the Federal Highway Trust Fund is just the main symptom of pain in this sector. A report released yesterday contains warnings by bipartisan transport experts that unless
Congress and the public quickly get behind innovative transportation reforms, America’s global economic leadership will fade in the near future.

Yesterday afternoon Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced federal grants totaling $776 million to 45 states plus the District of Columbia for bus system improvements, but much of that cash will go to purchase busses and other equipment, and very little of it to transportation infrastructure construction.

Meanwhile, several Republican gubernatorial candidates in hotly contested state election races are making campaign promises to block the Obama administration’s ambitious plans for bullet train service in the northeastern industrial corridor from Boston to Washington, D.C. The Stimulus legislation committed billions to high speed rail construction proposals touted as “shovel ready,” but so far the shovels have not turned a single scoop of railroad ballast onto high speed rail construction projects anywhere in the nation. If economic recovery is depending on the construction industry to bring job growth, these gubernatorial campaign issues are an ill wind blowing the wrong direction.
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