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Reply #51: House plan to create 6 million jobs to rebuild transportation infrastructure rejected by White House [View All]

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Better Believe It Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Aug-15-10 09:51 AM
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51. House plan to create 6 million jobs to rebuild transportation infrastructure rejected by White House
Just last summer .....

$500 billion plan to upgrade U.S. transportation hits federal pothole
Scott Smith is director of strategic initiatives for HNTB Corporation
July 13, 2009

Our roads, highways and bridges are crumbling under the strain of overuse and old age.

But a comprehensive solution may have encountered a bottleneck that will postpone for 18 months or longer a push to correct the sorry state of our surface transportation system. Delay is something we can no longer afford ....

We find ourselves in this predicament because we have not had a national transportation plan since the interstate highway system was launched in 1956.

U.S. Rep. James Oberstar, a Minnesota Democrat and chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, addressed these huge needs by introducing the Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009. Oberstar proposes spending $500 billion over the next six years to transform our antiquated system into the reliable, sophisticated network we need to safely and efficiently move people and goods.

The legislation would provide approximately:

$337 billion for highway construction, including at least $100 billion to begin long-awaited repairs to our national highway system and bridges.

$100 billion for mass transit, including $12 billion for repairs.

$50 billion to fund 11 high-speed rail corridors linking major metropolitan areas.

The total investment would create or sustain about 6 million family-wage jobs, many here in the Midwest as our region continues to grow in importance as a transportation hub.

Unfortunately, Oberstars bill has collided with a proposal put forth by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. The secretary wants Congress to pass an 18-month highway authorization bill that would put off a comprehensive, long-term solution and instead perpetuate a piecemeal mix of half-measures and temporary remedies for our nations transportation woes.

This collision need not turn into a pileup if we make the right choice. Oberstars approach is the right way to go.

Please read the complete article at:


Will Oberstars Grand Highway Plan Stall?
By Colby Itkowitz, CQ Staff
June 27, 2009

Oberstar recently made public the outline of an authorization bill for the governments highway and transit programs that he hopes will be the capstone of his long legislative career: a six-year, $450 billion package he describes as rivaling President Dwight D. Eisenhowers creation of the Interstate Highway System more than a half-century ago.

The approximately 800-page draft measure that Oberstar has been refining for months envisions an ambitious overhaul, consolidating more than 100 individual federal programs into four broad categories, while pumping billions of dollars into new highway and high-speed rail projects. Most significant, it would require that federal money be spent to achieve specific goals and measures cutting congestion in a city by a particular amount, for example rather than distributing it only by formula among states or through congressional earmarks.

This moment, which is the apex of his political career, could not have come at a worse time for a chairman who puts such a high value on policy purity and such a relatively low value on political posturing. Its been clear for months that President Obama and Oberstars fellow Democrats who are higher up in the congressional power structure are in no hurry to tackle a multi-year highway and transit bill, because they would have to find a way to pay for it and the White House has said a flat no to the notion of raising the gasoline tax, even temporarily, as Oberstar has proposed.

In fact, no sooner had Oberstar arranged to release an outline of his proposal than Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood went to Capitol Hill to reveal the administrations own plan: an 18-month extension of current programs combined with a few of Obamas favorite ideas nothing like the full-blown overhaul of which Oberstar dreams.

They cut the legs out from under him, said the top Republican on Oberstars committee, John L. Mica of Florida.

Its not that Oberstar wasnt warned about how difficult it would be. At the very outset of this Congress, his partys leaders sharply limited his role in assembling the economic stimulus bill (PL 111-5), which Oberstar and others thought was tailor-made for financing transportation projects that could quickly put people to work. He had written his own proposal and held hearings, gathering testimony from economists and from state and local leaders who vowed that investments in transportation infrastructure were the greatest short-term stimulus. But as the measure grew, Oberstar was edged out, and transportation became just a sliver in the overall package.

Obama, congressional leaders and governors no doubt agree with Oberstar that the nations road and rail networks are in desperate need of repair and expansion. But persuading them to pay for it is another matter.

Please read the complete article at:

Sorry. These are old stories so the newspaper links are no longer available. But here's the link to the original post on Democratic Underground:
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