Stimulus spending, transportation and bicycling

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Friday, January 16, 2009
By Yokota Fritz

The U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee has been working on "The American Economic Recovery and Reinvestment Act" stimulus spending package. In spite of fears that the stimulus bill would contain no policy changes with regard to current federal transportation spending -- in which only 3% of federal transportation spending goes to transit -- the proposed $275 billion spending bill contains $30 billion for highways and $10 billion for public transit. Greater Greater Washington has a very good breakdown of where spending would go in the proposed bill.

Local to me in California, the city of San Jose and the Valley Transportation Authority has lobbied for stimulus funding to pay for several 'shovel ready' projects consisting mostly of backlogged road maintenance projects but including significant transit projects such as the Eastridge Light Rail extension and the BART extension to San Jose. I'm told that bike projects -- including some of the bike parking and access projects described in the Caltrain Bike Access report -- are also in San Jose's funding requests, though I don't have the numbers right now.

New highways often come at the expense of poorer families as their homes are condemned then razed to make way for new right of way. In a guest editorial, Angela Glover Blackwell opines that public transit in the recovery package builds a foundation for the new economy and lifts up low-income families.

At a much smaller and local level, Andy proposes his own stimulus plan. Barack Obama's proposed $1000 tax cut equates to about $60 per paycheck. He created Stimulus Bike as a resource for us to pledge to use this money towards bikes, which is a great way to improve the health of our economy, ourselves, our environment, and our wallets. Use your tax cut to buy, fix, repair or upgrade a bike.

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In order to assist the concept of BART being shovel ready VTA just stole $91 Million from Dumbarton Rail to put towards the BART extension. Much better to be able to BART to Warm Springs than to be able to switch at Union City to a train that will take you to Redwood City and then up/down the peninsula :(
BART to Warm Springs makes some sense as that station is close to the giant NUMMI auto plant. If the A's do build a stadium in Fremont, the Warm Springs station would also be the closest stop. Unfortunately VTA sees BART as being all about developing San Jose downtown, which was also the rationale for the ridiculously empty Toonerville Trolley, oops I mean Light Rail.
close to the giant NUMMI auto plant - currently suffering from a set of work furloughs.

If the A's do build a stadium in Fremont - which sounded like a great idea a few years ago... and regardless, to be realistic, the A's picked that spot because it will support a huge parking lot, not because it's close to BART. The Warm Springs stop is as close to the Stadium site as Bayshore Caltrain is to the 49ers stadium... e.g. not at all.
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