Report: Nation’s Cities Getting Stiffed on Stimulus

The nation’s largest metropolitan areas — which account for 63 percent
of the U.S. population and 73 percent of the gross domestic product
(GDP) — have received less than half of the surface transportation
money allocated so far under the Obama administration’s economic
stimulus plan, according to a new report compiled for the U.S.
Conference of Mayors.

3625935741_b76f0fa791_m.jpgManny Diaz, outgoing president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors. Photo: usmayors/Flickr

The transportation stimulus report was released over the weekend during the mayoral conference’s annual meeting, which lost high-profile attendees to a firefighters’ strike in the host city of Providence, Rhode Island.

data suggests that cities, while they remain economic engines and
shoulder much of the environmental cost of congestion, are getting the
short end of the stick from state DOTs that have control over a
significant share of stimulus money.

The top 85 American
metro areas have received $8.8 billion, or 48 percent, of the $18.6
billion in stimulus aid given to state DOTs by the Federal Highway
Administration, according to the mayoral conference’s report.

report found several cities that generate a large amount of economic
activity for their states getting a comparatively small share of
transportation aid. Los Angeles, for example, contributes 39 percent of
California’s GDP but received 25 percent of its stimulus money.
Indianapolis fared even worse, netting just four percent of Indiana’s
transportation stimulus money while generating 39 percent of the
state’s GDP.

Using congestion estimates from the Texas Transportation Institute’s (TTI) most recent Urban Mobility study, the mayoral conference’s report also found that urban areas have not received stimulus money to match their traffic burden.

York City pays 9.4 percent of the nation’s congestion costs, according
to the TTI, but has received 3.6 percent of the nation’s road-repair
money. San Francisco’s congestion costs are 3.1 percent of the national
total, but its share of FHWA stimulus aid was 0.4 percent.

road-repair money should be distributed primarily on the basis of
economic production or congestion remains open to debate. However, the
mayoral conference concluded simply that state DOTs "should take into
account" the economic production of cities in order to maximize the
impact of the stimulus’ transportation dollars.

"To do so
would prompt states and federal decision-makers to increase their
funding commitments to the nation’s metro economies, raising the
productivity level of their investments," the report concluded.


New Analysis: Major Cities Still Shortchanged by Transportation Stimulus

The Obama administration’s awarding of $1.5 billion in competitive transportation stimulus grants on Wednesday sparked elation in cities such as Kansas City and New Orleans. But those celebrations were more than just anecdotal evidence of the so-called TIGER program‘s urban impact, according to a new analysis from the Brookings Institution’s Rob Puentes. (Chart: The Avenue) […]

The Challenges in Getting Transit Funded

One of the most unusual members of the Streetsblog Network is the Santa Rosa CityBus blog, written by staffers from the municipal bus system in that Northern California city and "intended to highlight for the public some of the activities, efforts and challenges of operating a bus system in a mid-size California city." It’s a […]

Freight Rail, Streetcars Are Tops in Stimulus’ TIGER Chase

The Obama administration today announced the winners of $1.5 billion stimulus in highly competitive stimulus grants under the program known as Transportation Investments Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER. Southeastern and midwestern freight rail projects were the day’s biggest winners, with urban streetcar projects also making a big splash. Freight rail in Chicago, where the CREATE […]

Tell Congress: Don’t Waste Money on Highway Expansion

States should know better than to funnel more money into road expansion at the expense of maintenance. With President-elect Obama back in Washington, action is heating up again around the economic recovery package, which could total up to $850 billion over the next two years. As much as $100 billion may be at stake for […]