Streetsblog.net: Help Rep. Oberstar Green the Stimulus

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 bridges
and $12 billion to transit — part of $85 billion being discussed for
transportation spending in the stimulus plan.

These figures may change, but it would be a significant policy shift
if Congress were to pass a bill that provides mass-transit funding
equal to 40% of the total spent on highways. For years, Congress has
funded public-transportation projects at 25% of the level that has gone
to 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.

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