Sunday, December 6, 2015

On the Highway

You take your victories where you can get them.
Congress just passed a $305 billion transportation infrastructure bill for money to be spent on highways, mass transit and Amtrak.  This is a good thing.
Pardon me, though, if I don't appear to be to enthusiastic.  About $10 billion will go to Amtrak to allow it to improve its infrastructure, especially with regard to its Acela service, but anyone looking for a down payment on real high-speed rail will be disappointed.  On the other hand, award Congress points for providing $200 million to help Amtrak and freight railroad companies to install the safety technology designed to prevent derailments like the Amtrak accident that happened in Philadelphia in May 2015.
And while $305 billion is nice, President Obama wanted $478 billion, and Democratic presidential candidates have insisted on spending even more.  But $305 billion is all we can afford so long as the gas tax remains in the same place (it was last raised in 1993). 
Meanwhile, Wisconsin lawmakers have stuck in a provision to open up more roads for the state's logging trucks.  Timber!
And when all is said and done, federal transportation policy remains, largely, as autocentric as it has been for the past sixty years, with mass transit still an afterthought.  
No, this bill is not perfect.  But I suppose we can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. 

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