$2 Billion for Bicycling in Stimulus Package?

blumenauer.jpgEarl Blumenauer. Photo: New York Times

The most tantalizing tidbit in today’s Times profile of Earl Blumenauer comes from fellow cycling Congressman James Oberstar:

With
an eye on the potential stimulus package, cycling advocates "have
compiled a list of $2 billion of projects that can be under
construction in 90 days," Mr. Oberstar said, adding that prospects are
"bright."

We’re putting calls in to
congressional offices to find out more about how this potential funding
would get distributed and what needs to happen to include it in the
recovery package. The list Oberstar mentions may refer to the $3.4
billion in ready-to-go bike and pedestrian projects identified by the Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (click through for their petition).

Meanwhile, the House Republican leadership is making its transportation priorities clear. Here’s Minority Leader John Boehner, quoted in the Hill:

"I think there’s a place for infrastructure, but what kind of
infrastructure? Infrastructure to widen highways, to ease congestion
for American families? Is it to build some buildings that are
necessary?" He stated. "But if we’re talking about beautification
projects, or we’re talking about bike paths, Americans are not going to
look very kindly on this."

Isn’t
this the same GOP that wants to re-establish its fiscally responsible
bona fides? That will be a tall order as long as it’s still the party
of Patrick McHenry
— mocking a cost-effective transportation solution that will help
Americans save money, while supporting exorbitant highway expansions
that commit us to more spending on gas and huge maintenance obligations
down the road.

  • Don’t forget, conservatives tried to derail the New Deal, too. Yet many “beautification” projects completed under the WPA banner, as well as conservation, trail and restoration work done by the Civilian Conservation Corp, are among the nation’s best-loved and longest-lasting reminders of the good that can be done with federal spending.

    As the results of the last two elections clearly indicate, this generation of G.O.P. leadership has already demonstrated they’re politically tone-deaf. They can continue to operate as obstructionists, and risk spending the next 50 years out of power — just as conservatives did after opposing FDR — or they can seek the political middle ground, and stand a chance of re-establishing themselves as a viable political option.

  • I’m of 2 minds of rails to trails. on the one hand Railroad ROWs are the perfect places to create Bike Paths. but on the other hand I would like to see a resurgence of the Rail networks of yore. My Family owns a business in an Old Woolen Mill in MA. this is right next to the Abandoned ROW of the Old Boston to New York Air Line which was designed and built as a straight line between Boston and NYC unlike the costal rout that Amtrak runs today. My father said before it stopped running in the 1950s the trip time from Franklin MA to NYC was 3 1/2 hours. The Accela can barely do that today. Now most of it is being converted to Bike trails but wouldn’t it be nice if that route was still rail and put a high speed set on it you could be in NYC in no time

    More info on the Boston NYC Air Line can be found here:
    http://pages.cthome.net/mbartel/ARRhistory.htm

  • Spokker

    I don’t see why you can’t put a bike path next to the right of way. We have to choose between trains and bikes now or something?

  • My house sits eight feet–8′– away from the oldest municipally built rail trail in New England. Twenty five years ago, it was at first thought of as a just a bike path –or a mere rec path.

    Today, so many kids use it bike to school that the city plows it in the winter. They plow it because biking or walking to school is a transportation use–thus worthy of being plowed. This path has made the transformation from Rec to Transportation–as do most paths around here, after a while.

    In fact, there are over 200 rail trail projects within 100 miles of my community of Northampton, MA. The RRs in southern New England were overbuilt by a factor of 3. The Airline RoW falls into this category.

    None of this network will be needed for passenger rail projects. The trolley networks can be rebuilt easily and have more value for short distance travel than any of the former steam RR network.

    Today this network of former steam RR corridors around here connects to where people live, work and play. We are developing the densest network of non motorized off road paths in the U.S. Simply amazing things are underway here.

    Additionally, I’m a realtor with a speical niche. I specialize in the sale of houses next to or near to rail trails and greenways and a few months ago, my practice was featured in the Wall Street Journal. In 2008, I was the top agent at one of the largest firms in Western Mass. The wheels haven’t fallen off RE around here–if you have a niche.

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