So much for SUPERTRAINS
Wouldn't it be great if we learned something from the bailout Clusterfuck? That if you throw money into a system without any oversight, you just make the system do what it already does, except more so? In the case of TARP, we got massive looting by Hank Paulson's golfing buddies; and in the case of the stimulus packag, we're going to get more roads, more cars, more suburban sprawl, and further away from sustainability. Bloomberg:
Dec. 24 (Bloomberg) -- Missouri’s plan to spend $750 million in federal money on highways and nothing on mass transit in St. Louis doesn’t square with President-elect Barack Obama’s vision for a revolutionary re-engineering of the nation’s infrastructure.
Utah would pour 87 percent of the funds it may receive in a new economic stimulus bill into new road capacity. Arizona would spend $869 million of its $1.2 billion wish list on highways.
While many states are keeping their project lists secret, plans that have surfaced show why environmentalists and some development experts say much of the stimulus spending may promote urban sprawl while scrimping on more green-friendly rail and mass transit.
“It’s a lot of more of the same,” said Robert Puentes, a metropolitan growth and development expert at the Brookings Institution in Washington who is tracking the legislation. “You build a lot of new highways, continue to decentralize” urban and suburban communities and “pull resources away from transit.”
His plans are colliding with deep fiscal shortfalls among states with a backlog of road-building needs and pressure from lawmakers to use his economic recovery package mainly for “ready to go” projects that will immediately bolster the economy.
The shovel that's ready should be the bullshit shovel. Because we'll need it.
For one thing, there are plenty of mass transit projects that are ready to go now:
Polly Trottenberg, director of Building America’s Future, a Washington-based group promoting innovation in infrastructure improvements, counters that “there are plenty of projects that can put Americans back to work immediately and also start the transformation that is needed.”
Her organization and other groups have pinpointed $16.5 billion in mass-transit projects on which work can start within a year, and in many cases within four months.
For another, there's a whole category of projects that don't seem to be on anybody's radar screen at all: Projects for education, childcare, teaching, training could also start right away -- and there's your real bridge to the future: The mind, not concrete and still. Of course, women are disproportionately represented in those fields, so perhaps that's the problem.
Anyhow, no oversight:
Members of Congress and some officials with the incoming administration are moving toward legislation that gives states funds through existing formulas that provide little oversight to ensure the spending fits into a broader plan to modernize the nation’s infrastructure grid and promote energy efficiency, according to several lobbyists and congressional aides.
“We like the environmentally friendly way of doing things but the charge we were given was to come up with something that can happen quickly,” said Jim Berard, a spokesman for House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat.
Harry, Nancy, nice work.
Urban planners and mass transit advocates say that approach may undercut Obama’s goal of more innovation in upgrading the nation’s infrastructure.
In Europe and Southeast Asia, governments are investing tens of billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects that include systems designed for the rapid transport of merchandise. Proponents of a new approach to transportation in the U.S. are pushing for the stimulus package to fund similar projects.
Yes, I'm sure our international competitors will be happy to see us being stupid.
They also are backing a provision in the stimulus legislation that would require states to spend funds on maintenance before building new roads. And they also want to direct funds to metropolitan planning authorities and to create a national oversight group to help coordinate the spending.
This could be similar to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s creation of a national resources planning board during the New Deal that developed long-range plans for infrastructure spending, Todorovich said. It laid the groundwork for the interstate highway system 20 years later.
Change? Or more of the same? Could we have some leadership on this? Before all the money is pissed away?