Congress Still Can't Find Main Street: Op-Ed in Charlotte Observer
Shouldn't the new "Jobs for Main Streets" stimulus bill actually fund walkable, bikable transit-friendly main streets, rather than just auto-only highways? CNU made that argument in the Hartford Courant a week ago. Op-ed editors at the Charlotte Observer the idea deserved attention in their paper too, this time with a Carolinas spin. (Streetsblog's Capitol Hill correspondent also praised it for "introducing a dose of honesty into the jobs bill debate.") If you agree, do what you can to raise the visibility of this idea.
Congress still can't find Main Street
New stimulus bill has right name, wrong aim
After earlier federal bailouts and stimulus bills were faulted for enriching Wall Street and proving anemic in creating jobs, the president and congressional Democrats sent a message in choosing a name for the jobs bill that passed the House just before Christmas - the "Jobs for Main Street" bill. It's progress that this time funds will flow away from, not toward, Wall Street. And the legislation will keep some people working, especially in local and state government. But will funds from this bill really reach Main Street? Well, not so much. When it comes to the largest spending item in the bill - $27.5 billion in highway spending - Main Street is missing.
The $27.5 billion isn't targeted to rebuild streets at the heart of older cities and towns. No, it will mostly go to the expansion of wide, motor-vehicle-only highways that go hand-in-hand with energy-wasting sprawl. This follows the earlier stimulus bill that favored massive highway projects, including a batch of expensive "highways to nowhere," which an examination by the Infrastructurist Web site concluded "make no sense."
The new bill does reserve $8.4 billion for transit and $800 million for Amtrak. But just when U.S. real estate markets are turning to Main Street and traditional neighborhood design, Congress throws $27.5 billion at infrastructure that supports sprawl.
Read the rest of the op-ed.
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