Saturday, April 23, 2011

Federal government controlled by oil trolls

Despite suburbs’ swan song, transit money withers - Climate change demands that Americans drive less and use more mass transit, while the specter of ever-rising gas prices provides the economic incentives to follow that environmental imperative. These forces will only grow over time. It’s an easy narrative to follow — except in Washington, where the pitched warfare over budgets and deficits threatens to rob cities and towns of their ability to become future-proof.
...The budget deal cut $2.9 billion from Obama’s ambitious high-speed rail program, leaving the president without a penny to spend on the initiative this year. It also cut New Starts, the program that pays for most new transit construction, to $400 million below last year’s level. Neither cut is paradigm-shifting, but each sets a worrisome precedent. Overall federal spending levels have nowhere to go but down, and this year’s low baseline could become next year’s ceiling.

The transit advocacy group Reconnecting America recently catalogued $233 billion in backlogged transit projects across the country, including $77 billion in the Northeast. The MBTA’s Green Line extension, Blue-Line-and-Red-Line connector, and South Coast rail project are all on the list. At the current spending pace, this backlog would take 73 years to fund.

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