City Making Its List for Obama Stimulus

12_9_08_obama_bus.jpg

At tomorrow’s City Council Joint Transportation and Public Works Committee,
the city will begin it’s quest to get bailout funds from the future
Obama Administration.  For those of you not paying attention to
national politics, the President-Elect seems to be heading towards an
infrastructure investment plan, "the largest since the creation of the
national highway system, to jumpstart the economy.  Metro is readying its list
of projects that are ready to go except that they are lacking funding,
and now the City of Los Angeles is getting ready to do the same.

The council resolution directing city agencies to prepare their "stimulus list" is pretty straightforward:

The
package, aimed at ending the current economic crisis, may contain as
much as $700 billion to create jobs and create economic growth. The
goal is to use the money to jumpstart infrastructure projects to create
jobs and fuel economic growth. The federal government has discussed
direct funding for new roads, bridges, airports and ports to remain
competitive in the global economy. Spending is likely to be focused on
"shovel-ready" infrastructure to ensure the greatest job-creating
potential. It is imperative that Los Angeles seek as much funding as
possible for the City’S infrastructure needs.

If there were ever a time for the City to think outside the box to
begin to change our transportation culture, this is it.   Let’s hope the city seizes the opportunity to not just bring federal funds into the city, but to bring in funds for the kinds of projects that will do more than move more cars more quickly through our streets.

President-Elect Obama, and by extension his administration, has shown
an unusual amount of interest in changing the way people travel in
America and has said repeatedly that he wants to invest in inner-city
rail, bike and pedestrian projects and other green technologies.  I
would be willing to bet that if the city moved quickly to put together
a laundry list of truly environmental alternative transportation
projects they would see more funds than if they push forward with the
traditional asphalt-themed transportation planning.

In a letter to Transportation for America,
Obama laid out his transportation goals during his term.  The letter is
dated before the election, but wasn’t made public until afterwards:

I will build upon my efforts in the Senate to ensure that more
Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize
greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks. And as
president, I will work to provide states and local governments with the
resources they need to address sprawl and create more livable
communities.

Yes, updating our aging infrastructure is important.  Nobody would
argue that.  But for a city that has just voted overwhelmingly that
it’s past time to build a modern transit system, now is the time to
seize on that momentum, seize on Obama’s willingness to invest in
alternative transportation and ask for funding for green transportation
projects.

The meeting will begin at 2:00 P.M. at City Hall tomorrow, Wednesday December 9.

Photo: Penn Live

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