The U.S. Conference of Mayors recently submitted a project wish-list to the President-Elect. Ignore the Seattle Times‘s idiotic focus on solar panels and look at the document yourself.

Since you probably don’t want to sift through 607 pages:

  • Our two Amtrak requests are on page 242.
  • Washington State street projects begin on Page 501, and  some of them are transit-related, including BAT lanes on Aurora and the Spokane St. Viaduct.
  • The list of explicitly transit-related projects begins and ends on page 525, and it’s kind of pathetic.  The big fish are $150m for the D & M street rail bridge for Sounder and Amtrak, and $30m for a new “transit-oriented garage” in Auburn.  Also: BAT lanes on Rainier Avenue in Renton!

New Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood was formally announced today.  The relevant sections of Obama’s remarks are after the jump.

Standing up for our workers means putting them back to work and fueling economic growth. Our economy boomed in the 20th Century when President Eisenhower remade the American landscape by building the interstate highway system. Now we need to remake our transportation system for the 21st Century. Doing so will not only help us meet our energy challenge by building more efficient cars, buses, and subways or make Americans safer by rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges – it will create millions of new jobs in the process.

Few understand our infrastructure challenge better than the outstanding public servant I am asking to lead the Department of Transportation – Ray LaHood. As a Congressman from Illinois, Ray served six years on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, leading efforts to modernize our aviation system by renewing our aging airports and ensuring that air traffic controllers were using cutting edge technology. Throughout his career, Ray has fought to improve mass transit and invest in our highways. But he has not only helped rebuild our landscape, he has helped beautify it by creating opportunities for bikers and runners to enjoy our great outdoors.  When I began this appointment process, I said I was committed to finding the best person for the job, regardless of party. Ray’s appointment reflects that bipartisan spirit – a spirit we need to reclaim in this country to make progress for the American people.

I don’t really have anything to say about his remarks, but I’ll take the opportunity to state that I’m not expecting a huge push from the administration to end the nation’s  emphasis on roads, make the car obsolete, or any of the other more radical goals of public transportation advocates.  The postwar consensus  in favor of the auto is a bipartisan one, and there are only so many transformations of American society that one administration can successfully execute.  It’s clear that the emphasis will be on the economy, the wars, health care, and climate change.  I’d expect Obama, Biden, and LaHood to help out at the margins with appointments and such, but those who are really disappointed in the LaHood pick should probably modulate their expectations.

12 Replies to “Stimulus, LaHood, Obama”

  1. It’s worth noting :
    1) our mayor, Greg Nickels, is Vice President of the American Conference of Mayors. So he likely got what he wanted into that doc.
    2) The list of projects in that doc totals about $73 billion, which is less than 10% of what the actual stimulus is likely to be.
    3) One of the roads projects is a transit lane on Aurora.

    St. Louis asked for a $900mn metro link extension, all we asked for was a rail barn.

    1. I’m curious how well publicized the selection process was for the mayors conference. Some cities have a huge wish list like Auburn, and many Washington cities have none at all, like Bellingham.
      I know this isn’t a cities last chance to make their projects know, but the food fight for stimulus funding has already begun.
      Take a number and get in line.
      Also, I’m really disappointed that none of the Cascade Corridor projects made it on the list, other than D St. and King St. renovations, which have been on the books for at least 10 years.

    2. I was at the PSRC meeting two weeks ago – I wasn’t keeping close notes on the topic when it was discussed, but the amount I recall was 150 million for the initial stimulus, for the State.

      There was also some talk about additional rounds of funding, and, personally, that seems likely.

      Also, personally, although I’ve been a critic of ST a sped up completion of the regional system makes sense. It isn’t completely engineered, but, most of the segment between Sea-Tac and Tacoma is on HWY 99 and the design principles have been worked out for this sort of corridor by the existing team.

      It also spends the money in areas that need stimulus (Seattle is likely near last nationwide based on that criteria) while also supporting regionalism.

      As one who puts a high priority on fiscal responsibility I think pushing the ST team to produce quicker results makes sense. FWIW, we could see the completion of the initial system within 5 years. ESPECIALLY if construction contracts get more competitive.

      1. Are you talking about light rail? There is no way that could be built and operational in 5 years. They haven’t even done any of the environmental work (EIS and the like) for light rail past S. 200th.

        Plus it’s my understanding that in order to get stimulus money the project must be ready to be advertised to bidders within 120 days of receiving federal funding. This eliminates a lot of the bigger projects in our area (a lot of light rail, viaduct, 520 bridge, etc).

  2. Obviously, anyone who doesn’t believe in privatizing bus service, and using only buses when rail would do better (ahem, Mary Peters, ahem) is an huge improvement. And I would call that change.

    Don’t anyone pretend for a second that Fredrico Pena or Rodney Slater (Clinton’s Transpo Chiefs) were not political appointments or that either of those guys prefered transit over roads.

  3. Another thing: this list includes $80 million for the Mercer St project. That would be cool. I know it’s a roads project, but it really would make that whole area a lot more pedestrian friendly. Also, this is just the requests by cities. Metro, the Ferry District, Sound Transit, the other transit agencies in the region, and WSDOT could be asking for more.

  4. I’m mildly optimistic about LaHood, simply because I don’t see how he could have been nominated without the backing of pro-rail people like Biden and Dukakis.

    But regardless of what he does or doesn’t do, we should never, NEVER “modulate our expectations” of him, the nation’s transition to rail, or anything else.

  5. The ‘D and M Street Railroad Bridge’ submitted by Lakewood is curious. This is likely the D to M Street rail extension which already has WSDOT and ST partners. Though connecting to the now idle Lakewood Sounder station this particular segment is entirely within the city limits of Tacoma.

    Design is now being finalized and hopefully this funding won’t be used to rush things faster than they should be – something that is an implicit goal of the ‘shovel ready criteria. In addition, the claimed job total of 2700 seems high, maybe a factor of ten.

    There are a number of crucial issues along this segment, including the Water Ditch Bike trail and Freeway access ramp blockages which are now being resolved. Perhaps most notably is that the best ‘HUB’ for most of the currently planned bike trails in Tacoma is immediately to the South of this corridor (between 26th and the 25th Link ROW, if you can picture it).

  6. I just hope LaHood doesn’t fall for Mineta’s idiotic BRT/HOT “Reduce Congestion Now” bs. Libertarians and privatizers have only given us failed policies in recent years. They need to be kicked to the curb. Hard.

Comments are closed.