Keeping the Stimulus in Focus

The Friends of Earth have released a report titled “Road to Ruin” identifying 27 highway projects they are unnecessary and unbalanced. The report underscores a key imbalance between road and transit funding from the Federal Government.

Uneven Playing Field–To gain approval and federal funding, transit projects face far more intense scrutiny than highway projects. While this policy helps ensure that federal transit dollars are well spent, it also discriminates in favor of highways.

The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) evaluates and rates each New Starts proposal and requires a comprehensive planning and project development process that considers impacts on employment, operating efficiency, cost effectiveness, land -use policies, and local funding commitment. Highway projects face a far less stringent analysis. Most projects receive an exclusion from review, while less than 3 percent require an Environmental Impact Statement, which is primarily a consideration of the project’s direct environmental and traffic impacts. Even in these cases, cost-benefit,
land-use, and performance analyses are rarely required or conducted, and state
departments of transportation (DOT) do not have to provide hard evidence that a proposed project will be economically or socially beneficial. And while the FTA measures transit projects against similar proposals and projects in other states, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) draws no such comparison between highway projects.

FHWA provides limited project oversight once a highway project has been approved, but FTA carefully monitors the progress of each transit project, including financial performance and schedule adherence.

Meanwhile, over at Streetsblog, they’d like to put the stimulus package on a Road Diet.

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