Rebuild America

May 4, 2011

The United States Conference of Mayors released a survey Tuesday focused on metropolitan transportation investments. Generally the take-away is that the mayors want less money spent on highways and more spent on cities’ transport needs.

From the survey:

• Ninety-eight percent of mayors point to investment in affordable, reliable transportation as an important part of their cities’ economic recovery and growth.

• Three in five mayors said they would not support an increase in the federal gas tax if federal transportation funding were allocated among programs in the same proportions that it is today.

• Ninety percent of the mayors urged reforms in federal transportation programs to allow cities and their metropolitan areas to receive a greater share of federal funds directly.

• More than three in five mayors have established a dedicated local funding source for transportation improvements, which would enable them to meet federal transportation project matching requirements.

• Absent a greater share of funding directly to cities and metropolitan areas, only 8% of the mayors indicated support to increase the federal gas tax.

The United States has benefited from decades of inexpensive oil. We built suburbs and a highway system that allows us to have energy intensive lifestyles.

People have left the residential areas of cities for decades.

But there is much to commend cities. Cities are the heart of commerce. Generally the best health care is found there. They are particularly environmentally friendly. And increasingly I hear of seniors retiring into cities.

The mayors have identified an important issue with the distribution of proceeds from the federal excise tax on gasoline (18.4 cents per gallon). They want more spent on their infrastructure.

Washington, D.C. has an outstanding street car project underway now. Named DC Streetcar the initial phase serves a very low income section of the District along H Street northeast. It is projected to begin service in October of this year.

The H Street project is an example of transforming an urban scape. It will connect the metro system to other modes of transport and provide low cost, energy efficient transportation.


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