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John Hennessy III,

Highway to Hell

Posted by Content Coordinator on Thursday, July 16th, 2009

“President Obama’s stimulus package presents a challenge: a choice between real change or business as usual. The Presidents’ focus on “shovel ready” capital projects that advance the highway lobby compromises his mission of social justice and reversing global warming. At a time when the world is 1 degree warmer with at least another degree in the pipeline the proposed allocation of $27 billion for highways is an attack on the environment and science. It presages an even greater ecological disaster–the federal transportation bill which, if not dramatically amended, will deliver 80 percent of several hundred billion more dollars to the highway industry.

The House stimulus package allocated only $12 billion for public transportation. This was raised from $9 billion but still is dwarfed by the highway budget-and is in danger of being raided by the Senate for even more highway funding. Meanwhile the existing mass transit infrastructure is deteriorating, as St. Louis, for example, is facing a 43% cut in transit services. The best and most cost-effective solution for transit capital is to fund brand new, clean fuel, expansion buses to run on already built surface streets and highways along with new rail cars to run on already existing tracks. The key is to eliminate new highway construction altogether and restrict highway funding to repairing existing structures.
Yet the stimulus package allocates no money for transit “operations funds.” “Operations” means “jobs” for drivers, mechanics, maintenance, and clerical workers. Without federal operating funds local transit agencies raise fares, cut service, and try to push through more regressive sales taxes, driving people out of mass transit. Congressperson DeFazio of Oregon made an amendment for $2 billion in operations funds but was voted down in the House…”

Highway to Hell

About Labor/Community Strategy Center
“The Strategy Center is a Think Tank/Act Tank for regional, national and international movement building, founded in 1989 and based in the 10 million-person world city of Los Angeles. Our campaigns, projects, and publications are rooted in working class communities of color, and address the totality of urban life with a particular focus on civil rights, environmental justice, public health, global warming, and the criminal legal system.”

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