Skip to Content
Streetsblog San Francisco home
Streetsblog San Francisco home
Log In
Streetsblog USA

New Analysis: 59% of Road Stimulus Went to Repair, 33% to New Capacity

Shovel_ready.jpg(Photo: DMI Blog)

the first year of the Obama administration's economic stimulus law, 59
percent of its $27 billion in transportation formula funds went to
projects that preserve existing roads, while 33 percent was used to
build new pavement, according to an analysis by the advocacy group Smart
Growth America (SGA).

The new data, unveiled today by SGA state policy director Will
Schroeer at a green jobs
in Washington, brings a measure of good news to clean
transport advocates who had viewed
the stimulus as somewhat of a disappointment for its failure to fund
roads and transit on a more equal footing.

The SGA analysis does not include the law's $8.4 billion in transit
aid, looking solely at the formula funding that is often
depicted as
dedicated to highways and bridges.

In fact, states were allowed to redirect some of that larger pot to
transit, though not all took advantage of that flexibility. "Some
states were really, I have to say, dishonest with the public about what
the money could be spent on," Schroeer said today.

Here's how SGA's one-year analysis of the $27 billion in stimulus
money shook out:

59% spent on road system repair/preservation
33% spent
on new road capacity
3.9% spent on non-motorized transport (e.g.
1.7% spent on transit and related projects
2% spent on
other uses

Several other speakers at the green jobs conference emphasized
rules that allowed only
10 percent
of federal transit stimulus aid to go towards operating
budgets that ensure trains and buses can keep running. The lion's share
of the transit spending went to capital projects, such as extending rail
lines or purchasing new equipment.

Brian Turner, director of the Transportation Learning Center, a transit-training group, lamented
that federal spending is weighted towards "physical capital ... Any
economist who went to class knows that there is another class [of
investment] that's equally important: That's human capital."

The debate over how to free up more federal transit funds for
operating has split the transit industry, with its biggest lobbying
force viewing
the change
as a short-term response to the recession while unions
and other transit agencies push for a permanent shift.

Nonetheless, SGA's past work on the job-creation performance of
transit relative to roads has appeared to make some headway with
Democratic lawmakers. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told conference
attendees today that her colleagues “have stood strong in the drive for
good, green jobs. ... We’ve said all along that clean energy is about
four things:
jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs."

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter