Stimulus Funds Roads Over Transit Three-to-One

Officials are complaining about the first draft of the economic stimulus package, arguing that it does not dedicate enough money to transit projects and heavily favors road building.
January 18, 2009, 5am PST | Nate Berg
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"The House bill would provide about $43 billion for roads, transit and airport projects, well below the $53 billion recommended by House Transportation Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D., Minn.). Many House members had figured the transportation component of the bill would exceed $85 billion, as the price tag of the overall package swelled to $825 billion in recent weeks."

"Some members of the House transportation committee objected to the proposed level of investment during a Democratic caucus session Thursday, and several members later spoke out during a committee meeting. Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman Peter DeFazio (D., Ore.) suggested the committee draft a letter or resolution to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi objecting to the transport section of the stimulus bill."

"Special-interest groups from labor unions to businesses also voiced objections. Environmental groups criticized the proposed spending for mass-transit systems and intercity rail projects, which was about $7 billion less than Mr. Oberstar had recommended. They have argued that expansion of mass-transit systems could help ease problems posed by climate change, congestion and oil consumption."

"Critics noted that the stimulus bill would spend three dollars on highways for every one dollar spent on mass-transit systems. When hearings begin next week, environmental groups said, they would push to lower that ratio or even put funding for transit on an equal footing with highways."

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Published on Friday, January 16, 2009 in The Wall Street Journal
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