The transportation stimulus at “1”: same mixed story

The economic stimulus from early 2009 was largely about creating jobs quickly, and so included a requirement that states obligate half of their flexible stimulus money in 120 days. In June 2009, SGA reported on what they decided to do with the money, and found that many states missed an opportunity to make as much progress as possible in filling the nation’s most pressing transportation needs and creating jobs as quickly as possible. They built new roads while old ones were crumbling, and passed on an opportunity to catch up on investing in public transportation — both of which are contrary to both the intent of ARRA and to what people have said they want transportation money spent on.

The states had to obligate all of their money within a year, so SGA has once again gone through every project to see where your money is going. The results? Not much changed between the 120-day obligations and the full year.

120 days 1 year
Highway System Preservation 63.0% 58.9%
Highway New Capacity 31.3% 33.5%
Non-Motorized + Related 2.8% 3.9%
Transit + Related 0.9% 1.7%
Other 2.0% 2.0%

The states had obligated 80% of their flexible transportation stimulus money within those first 120 days, so we did not expect the year-long numbers to change dramatically. Still, it is disappointing to see that even though every analysis finds that road repair and public transportation spending produce more jobs, and highway capacity relatively fewer, states increased the portion of stimulus funds going to new roads.

SGA will be issuing a more detailed state-by-state analysis of full-year spending choices; stay tuned.