A Few Answers on the Public Works Bill

The House and Senate, and we’ve discussed in a recent post, has been considering a major infrastructure bill that would provide a massive new source of funds for improvements to the nation’s roads and railways. I asked a few questions to Jim Berard, Director of Communications for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, which is headed up by Congressman Jim Oberstar. He also sent me a handy PDF of the letter sent yesterday by Oberstar and Representatives John Mica and Peter DeFazio to Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke in reference to the recent AIG transit funding disaster. You’ll note that the final two pages of the document show all of the deals made by the nation’s transit agencies with AIG, summed up to a flabbergasting $16 billion; let’s just say that most of this nation’s public transit rail fleet appears to be owned by AIG and

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Philly Fans Go Crazy

Philadelphia hasn’t won a baseball World Series in 25 years. So last night, what did the fans do to celebrate their achievement against the Devil Rays? Destroy a SEPTA bus shelter. A video of the moment was duly recorded by Philly.com.

Today, people in Philadelphia are so happy about the event that they have completely overwhelmed SEPTA and PATCO commuter trains into downtown. Philadelphia, which does have a pretty extensive train network, has been truly awful at maintaining and updating its system, so perhaps it is no surprise. Perhaps people knocked down that bus shelter because they were so horrified by the service SEPTA was providing them?

In other news, a summary of the Honolulu transit system EIS has been released. Here is a PDF, courtesy of the Star Bulletin. Current projections show a 20% decrease in traffic downtown and a $200 million increase in price over 2006 estimates, to $3.9

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Obama on Infrastructure; HSR Projects in UK and CA under Threat

Last night, Rachel Maddow spoke to Senator Barack Obama on MSNBC. The discussion turned almost immediately to infrustructure spending, though the two also talked about Afganistan and other not-as-interesting topics. You can watch the entire interview over at the Huffington Post, but I’ve transcribed the relevant stuff here:

Rachel Maddow: “There may be some policy fights ahead… if we are looking at economic stimulus, is there a possibility that you can see in your first term if you are elected, that we’d need an economic stimulus program that felt to Americans a little bit like a public works program, a little bit like an FDR-style infrastructure building program.”

Barack Obama: “Well I’ve actually talked about this, and I haven’t been hiding the ball on this; I think we have to rebuild our infrastructure. I mean, you look at what China’s doing right now, their trains are faster than us, their ports are

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Update: Public Works Investments

I missed this in this morning’s post: looks like Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, looking to find alternatives to the current crisis in funding for infrastructure projects that we’ve discussed several times here, will propose next month a $100-$300 billion bill to pay for such a program. Senator Barbara Boxer, head of the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works, similarly is looking to provide funding for such a program. This is excellent news and proves that Democratic leadership is looking for an effective antidote to not only the current economic crisis but also the overall infrastructure problems currently facing the country. For the first time since the Eisenhower Interstate Program, we are talking about massive investment to improve this country’s mobility and communication.

Some economists, notably those from the anti-investment league of the Bush Administration, say that infrastructure projects are too slow

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Will the Second Avenue Subway be Cancelled Once Again?

The Second Avenue Subway has been planned and replanned in New York City at least four times. Each time, the city’s subway planners announced that they would be able to commence construction, but ultimately were forced to delay and then cancel the project because of a lack of money and economic recessions. In the 1970s, the Transit Authority built a number of track sections for the line, tunnelling from 99th to 105th streets and from 110th to 119th streets. But then the city came incredibly close to declaring bankruptcy, President Gerald Ford metaphorically told the city to “Drop Dead,” and the Municipal Assistance Corporation, taking control of the city’s budget and run by the banks, cut off all spending on non-essential services, and some essential ones too (like funding for hospitals and police). Suffice it to say construction stopped.

But expanding subway ridership in the 1990s and 2000s,

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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