Our economy is at a virtual standstill because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Millions of Americans have lost their jobs and healthcare. Businesses of all sizes are facing an existential threat. Local municipal budgets are being gutted. As we hope for light at the end of the tunnel we’ll need to craft a smart recovery. We leaned on our experience with the stimulus of 2009 and our long expertise in infrastructure and community development to produce a package of federal policy recommendations Congress should consider to build the foundation for a long-lasting recovery.
The economic collapse brought on by the spread of COVID-19 has necessitated urgent action to protect our economy, but we must invest wisely. Funds must go to investments that build lasting economic prosperity and ultimately help all Americans have the opportunity to live in a place that is healthy, prosperous, and resilient. While many sectors of our economy are in need of support, we encourage policy makers to provide support for infrastructure and community revitalization programs.
Early yesterday morning, congressional leaders and the White House agreed to a $2 trillion COVID-19 economic stabilization plan that includes $25 billion emergency direct assistance to transit agencies, at a time when agencies’ revenue is plummeting, as well as more than $1 billion for passenger rail. This is a huge victory, and it wouldn’t have been possible without your messages and calls to Congress. But there’s still more work to do.
Senate republicans have unveiled their $1 trillion economic stimulus plan and not a single dollar is dedicated to supporting transit or Amtrak. This is unacceptable. Without action now some of the hardest-hit transit agencies won’t be able to recover, even if transit is included in a fourth stimulus package.
Obama Says Crumbling Infrastructure Is Costly to Economy, Threatens Growth
Bloomberg, November 2, 2011
President Barack Obama said the deterioration of the nation’s highways, bridges, airports and ports is costly to U.S. business and threatens future economic growth.
US House speaker promotes transportation projects
Businessweek, November 1, 2011
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner spoke in favor Monday of pumping federal money into transportation construction and speeding regulatory review of those projects — comments that seemed to resonate in a region longing for new bridges to ease traffic snarls.
Transportation secretary ‘optimistic’ about infrastructure’s chances in Congress
The Hill, November 2, 2011
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wednesday he’s optimistic legislation funding infrastructure projects could pass the Senate. “I’m optimistic, I think that if senators — both Republicans and Democrats — really are listening to people in their states they know that people are hurting,” he said Wednesday on MSNBC.
With President Barack Obama looking to stimulate a stagnant economy and create jobs through infrastructure investments in the American Jobs Act, it’s important to look at the lessons we learned from the previous stimulus.
NPR’s Yuki Noguchi talked with Smart Growth America’s President and CEO Geoff Anderson to discuss the importance of transit and repair of existing infrastructure for a infrastructure stimulus to be effective.
Earlier Stimulus Offers Lessons For A Second Round
NPR, September 9, 2011
Geoff Anderson, president and chief executive officer of Smart Growth America, a nonprofit, says some projects create more jobs for the money. Work on public transit and repairs to existing roads, for example, generated 50 to 70 percent more jobs than did work on new roads.
Focus on infrastructure earns associations’ approval of Obama’s Jobs Act
American City & County, September 9, 2011
SGA, which advocates for increases in transportation spending, contends that AJA should focus on streets and roads projects. “Investments in smart growth infrastructure like public transportation and repairing deteriorating infrastructure in existing communities will best achieve the goals outlined in [AJA],” SGA President and CEO Geoff Anderson said in a statement. “Rather than spending millions on land and equipment and obligating taxpayers to additional maintenance, these investments will reduce future costs and put a larger proportion of funds directly into the pockets of American families.”
‘I-69 equals jobs’ a persistent myth
Bloomington Alternative (Ind.), September 9, 2011
According to the article’s author, Keith Barry, figures from Smart Growth America show public transportation produces more jobs because it requires less acquisition of land; buses, trains and subways “need people to operate them and maintain the infrastructure”; and the workforce for public transit has more-diverse skills than does the workforce needed for highway construction.
The unemployment rate is staying stubbornly above nine percent and the President is preparing to offer new ideas for job creations. Hopefully he will pay attention to what groups like the American Society of Engineers and Transportation for America are promoting: infrastructure and transportation will create good, sustainable jobs across the country.
In his New York Times blog yesterday, Edward Glaeser asks for nuance and careful thinking on the question of whether countries should spend their way out of the recession: there’s no one answer, and we need to look carefully at the situations different countries are in. Similarly with different kinds of public spending. Some work, some don’t. It’s a good argument, but one he then fails to apply to infrastructure.
In today’s announcement of $1.5 billion in TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) awards, the US Department of Transportation (US DOT) showed the kinds of transportation projects that move people and freight in a way that makes places stronger, cleaner, and safer. DOT received 1,380 applications for the $1.5 billion pot, for a grand total of $56.5 billion in funds requested. The 51 projects announced under TIGER, part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), include…