From Denver: Dems Discuss Funding Woes; Biden Says “Amtrak”

bidenAP.jpgLast night saw what might one day qualify as an historic moment in transportation circles, as vice presidential candidate Joe Biden used the "A"-word during his speech to the Democratic National Convention in Denver. From a transcript of Biden’s address, via CNN:

You know, John McCain is my friend. And I know you hear that phrase
used all the time in politics. I mean it. John McCain is my friend.

We’ve traveled the world together. It’s a friendship that goes beyond
politics. And the personal courage and heroism demonstrated by John
still amazes me.

But I profoundly disagree with the direction
John wants to take this country, from Afghanistan to Iraq, from Amtrak
to veterans.

Meanwhile, earlier in the week, a panel of Democratic pols and economists seemed to agree that new investment in American infrastructure — including freight and commuter rail — is sorely needed, but came up short on the subject of funding. Roll Call reports:

They all
expressed the need for a private-public partnership, but the question
of where to raise federal funding caused anxiety among the elected
officials.

One
key issue was that the current system for infrastructure funding,
implemented in the Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956, relies on gas taxes
for revenue. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) called any attempt by Congress
to raise the gas tax “dead on arrival.”

But
Gov. Ed Rendell (D-Pa.) said that with or without the gas tax something
had to be done to bridge the funding gap, noting that the $1.6 trillion
cited by the ASCE report would only cover maintenance, not new
projects.

“When
I became governor I had to raise $2.4 billion in taxes,” Rendell said.
“When re-election came around — people aren’t stupid — one incumbent
lost and she voted against the tax increase.

“This is the time we have to challenge the American people. Folks, you get what you pay for.”

Photo: Associated Press via CNN 

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

Obama Builds Rail Cred With Biden Pick

|
Barack Obama’s standing as an advocate for investment in US commuter rail looks to have gotten a boost with his selection of Joe Biden as his running mate. Whereas John McCain is the Senate’s sworn enemy of Amtrak, his colleague from Delaware is known as a "Champion of the Rails." Notes Daily Kos diarist MissLaura […]

Battle Lines Drawn in High Speed Rail Vote

|
Later this week, the plan to build a High Speed Rail line connecting Los Angeles and San Francisco faces a crucial vote in the California legislature.  Governor Jerry Brown asked lawmakers to release $2.7 billion of the $6 billion in bonds passed by California voters in 2008 for High Speed Rail.  Combined with $3.3 billion […]

Streetsblog Election Guide

|
You don’t need me to tell you that there is a lot riding on next Tuesday’s election.  To help anyone who has yet to make a decision on the presidential election, Prop 1A, Measure R, or local planning and transportation measures, I’m including a nearly complete set of links to Streetsblog stories about what’s going […]

Ad Nauseam: Pump

|
John McCain released a new television advertisement where he promises relief at the gas pump for working families by increasing oil drilling in America. The ad begins by showing an old fashioned gas pump as a voice darkly intones, “Gas prices, $5, $% no end in site.”  Then, as the image changes to rapidly rising […]

A Bitter Ode to Union Station

|
Koeppel’s photo essay on Union Station at Flickr is almost as good as this story. I love this place. It is among the most beautiful train stations in the world, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. And I feel bad for Union Station, too: for years – and this may be part […]