Friday, July 8, 2011

Reaction to Federal Transportation Policy Bill Flooding In: 'People Think It’s a Rotten Idea'

Hawaii may be thousands of miles and six time zones distant from the nation’s capital, but our state is as concerned as any other about what happens there.

The Honolulu rail project anticipates receiving $1.55 billion in funding from the Federal Transit Administration. Events and discussions on Capitol Hill about reducing support for the nation’s transportation infrastructure, including rail transit, are obviously of concern out here.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman John Mica rolled out his committee’s six-year transportation reauthorization proposal yesterday. It has prompted a flood of reaction from transportation advocates, especially those who support so-called “green” transportation alternatives whose comments are aggregated at the StreetsBlog Network website, most especially at its Washington, DC affiliate.

We’re sure to hear from Honolulu rail opponents, many of whom seem opposed to government spending in general and who will assert that the project is threatened by potential congressional action. It’s therefore reasonable to publish comments from those who believe government infrastructure support is essential, including support for rail transit projects.

A Sampling of Opinion

Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ): “…I will fight this plan and work in the Senate for a stronger investment so that New Jersey and states across the country can use transportation projects to create jobs, ease commutes, boost the economy and modernize our infrastructure.”

Sen. Chuck Sch8umer (D-NY) (via Twitter): “Rep. Mica plan to cut infrastructure is job-killing, future-suffocating, pessimistic vision of US as ‘can’t do’ nation.”

Janet Kavinosky, executive director of transportation and infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce: “…Cuts will destroy – rather than support – existing jobs and will not enable creation of the additional jobs needed to put the 16.3% of unemployed workers in the construction industry back to work.”

Barbara McCann, executive director of the National Complete Streets Coalition: “…the proposal would eliminate the very modest dedicated funding for bicycling and walking, claiming these are ‘non-highway’ or ‘non-transportation’ activities. In fact, bicycling and walking make up 12 percent of the nation’s trips….”

John Robert Smith, president and CEO of Reconnecting America: “…A 30% cut in the federal investment in public transportation, roads, and bridges is in direct contradiction to the findings of numerous studies that our infrastructure is in dire need of repair and rehabilitation….”

William Millar, president of the American Public Transportation Association: “With high gas prices and a slow economy, now is not the time to implement cuts of more than 30 percent in public transportation funding. This lack of investment in the nation’s public transportation infrastructure will have a chilling effect on our country’s ability to create jobs and provide access to jobs necessary to move the economy forward. One dollar invested in our public transportation infrastructure generates four dollars in economic return. This proposal would severely underfund critical elements of the federal transit program. The funding will not permit public transit agencies to address the costs of getting the existing systems to a state of good repair, which the U.S. DOT has estimated as a one-time cost of $78 billion, let alone meet the growing demand for public transportation services in the United States. It will severely curtail the purchase of new buses and trains, reduce critical maintenance and safety programs, and could cut operating funds for transit systems in small communities and rural areas.”

Stay attentive to this national debate if you care about Honolulu rail.

Yes2Rail Gets Ink

Gene Park’s transportation-related column in the Star-Advertiser today is mostly about the rail project’s new and hugely improved website, but he had room at the end to add:

“The site isn’t the only source of online information on rail. Other than the obvious news sites, there are two blogs from opposite sides of the issue.” He then mentions Cliff Slater’s anti-rail site and Yes2Rail.

In addition to being on opposite sides of the issue, there’s another big difference in our two sites: HonoluluTraffic has published 2 posts since June 8th. Yes2Rail's count is 22.

No comments: