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 Civil Engineers and Transportation for America are promoting: infrastructure and transportation will create good, sustainable jobs across the country.
A bipartisan coalition of elected officials have formed Building America’s Future and focuses entirely on the issue of increased transportation spending and the potential for economic stimulus. Buildings America’s Future says they are “dedicated to bringing about a new era of U.S. investment in infrastructure that enhances our nation’s prosperity and quality of life.”
The catch though, is that we cannot spend indiscriminately—on transportation or any investment. Blank recommendations for increased spending on transportation or infrastructure leave out crucial—and expensive—lessons from the last stimulus. Not every transportation or infrastructure project is created equally, and not every dollar spent will bring equally successful results.
Voters already understand that repair and maintenance and public transportation are a good value for the dollar. In a national poll conducted by Smart Growth America, 91 percent of voters feel that maintaining and repairing our roads and bridges should be the top or a high priority for state spending on transportation programs, and 68 percent believe that improving and expanding public transportation options should be the top or a high priority.
Smart Growth America released a report earlier this year that found investing transit in public transportation produces 70% more jobs per dollar than building new roads. While communities are struggling with strapped budgets and weak economies, investing in public transportation options becomes even more critical because transportation will link jobseekers with employment opportunities.
After investing in transportation, we know that investing in road repair creates more jobs than building new roads. Also, as Smart Growth America found, investing one-dollar road repair now saves six to fourteen-dollars later down the road. Every state in the union needs to repair some percentage of their roads– why not make a wise investment that prevents a larger future liability AND creates jobs?
Public transportation and repair spending is the right stimulus, and hopefully the President takes this into consideration as he rolls out his new jobs ideas.