Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Where Of Transportation Funding

The U. S. Conference of Mayors has spoken up about local infrastructure investments, in particular, transportation funding for urban areas. The fact is they want more of it.

The mayor of Atlanta, Kasim Reed, has said that there should be more focus on “pressing metropolitan transportation infrastructure needs” and not “low -priority highway expansion projects”. That is right invest the money in the cities where the economic growth will occur. Places like Atlanta.

The U. S. Conference of Mayors has released the results of a survey of their members concerning such transportation investments and of the 176 cities which responded, 93 % feel that cities and metro areas should receive a greater share of the federal funds. Not only that, but it should come directly to the cities and bypass the state bureaucracy altogether. That sounds good doesn't it? Bypass the state and the MPO and use the money to do transportation that we like. I wonder what Lexington's position was on that.

If the money does NOT come directly to the cities and in greater levels, then only 7% of mayors voted to increase the federal gas tax. That would be the usual source of the federal transportation funds which has not kept up with the needs both in the cities and the rest of the country. You know that we are running approximately $20 billion a year behind in just maintenance work and not counting new road projects. How do you think our mayor voted on that one?

96% of mayors voted for increased transportation funding with 89% supporting a gas tax increase (if that money will be spent locally) and 65% if the money will be spent on public transit. With the price of gas rising, the use of hybrid and electric autos increasing and the per capita miles driven falling there is a question of where the funds will come from. What did Lexington say about that?

In the United States, metropolitan areas account for 86 percent of employment, 90 percent of wage income, and over the next 20 years, 94 percent of the nation’s economic growth, but they are burdened with the nation’s worst traffic jams, its oldest roads and bridges, and transit systems at capacity. Simply put, these areas are receiving significantly less in federal transportation investments than would reflect their role and importance to the nation’s economy.

U. S. Conference of Mayors

The Lexington area reflects the above statement well except for the part about the bridges and the transit system. According to the Transportation for America site the majority of bridges in the Lexington area are not that deficient and most around here will say that the Lextran buses are mostly empty. I am not sure about the bridge info but the Lextran rumor is totally false.

Now here is a real good question, if as the USCM website says:

The U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) is the official nonpartisan organization of cities with populations of 30,000 or more. There are 1,210 such cities in the country today. Each city is represented in the Conference by its chief elected official, the mayor.

Why did so few cities participate in this survey? The had a return rate of just under 15% and as this PDF shows the list is dominated by the smaller communities.

The answers to my questions as to Lexington's responses are-- apparently we did not give any. We are not included on the list of 176. So, what do yo think the answers SHOULD be?

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