Skip to Content
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Streetsblog Los Angeles home
Log In

New Analysis: 59% of Road Stimulus Went to Repair, 33% to New Capacity

8:00 AM PDT on May 5, 2010

Shovel_ready.jpg(Photo: DMI Blog)

the first year of the Obama administration's economic stimulus law, 59
percent of its $27 billion in transportation formula funds went to
projects that preserve existing roads, while 33 percent was used to
build new pavement, according to an analysis by the advocacy group
Smart Growth America (SGA).

The new data, unveiled today by SGA state policy director Will Schroeer at a green jobs conference in Washington, brings a measure of good news to clean transport advocates who had viewed the stimulus as somewhat of a disappointment for its failure to fund roads and transit on a more equal footing.

The SGA analysis does not include the law's $8.4 billion in transit aid, looking solely at the formula funding that is often depicted as dedicated to highways and bridges.

fact, states were allowed to redirect some of that larger pot to
transit, though not all took advantage of that flexibility. "Some
states were really, I have to say, dishonest with the public about what
the money could be spent on," Schroeer said today.

Here's how SGA's one-year analysis of the $27 billion in stimulus money shook out:

59% spent on road system repair/preservation
33% spent on new road capacity
3.9% spent on non-motorized transport (e.g. bike-ped)
1.7% spent on transit and related projects
2% spent on other uses

Several other speakers at the green jobs conference emphasized rules that allowed only 10 percent
of federal transit stimulus aid to go towards operating budgets that
ensure trains and buses can keep running. The lion's share of the
transit spending went to capital projects, such as extending rail lines
or purchasing new equipment.

Brian Turner, director of the Transportation Learning Center, a transit-training group,
lamented that federal spending is weighted towards "physical capital
... Any economist who went to class knows that there is another class
[of investment] that's equally important: That's human capital."

debate over how to free up more federal transit funds for operating has
split the transit industry, with its biggest lobbying force viewing the change as a short-term response to the recession while unions and other transit agencies push for a permanent shift.

SGA's past work on the job-creation performance of transit relative to
roads has appeared to make some headway with Democratic lawmakers.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told conference attendees today that
her colleagues “have stood strong in the drive for good, green jobs.
... We’ve said all along that clean energy is about four things: jobs,
jobs, jobs, jobs."

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from Streetsblog Los Angeles

Friday Bikeways Update: Beach Bike Path Damage, 7th Street, and More

Updates on: beach bike path in Pacific Palisades, Michigan Greenway in Santa Monica, Parthenia Place in North Hills, 7th Street Streetscape in DTLA, and Imperial Highway near LAX

March 1, 2024

Measure HLA Fact Check: Sidewalk Costs

The city says $200 million worth of annual ADA work is "included in the cost" of Measure HLA, but the city is already on the hook for that ADA work anyway, so none of it should be included as HLA costs

March 1, 2024

Supervisor Hahn Calls for No Residential Demolitions in Metro’s 710 Freeway Corridor Project

"[For 710 Freeway expansion] Metro needs to commit itself to zero residential property takes. [Metro] should have as one its top priorities ensuring that our projects do not result in kicking people out of their homes."

February 29, 2024
See all posts