Here’s an example of how misplaced our transportation priorities are in the United States.
Cincinnati has been fighting to get funding for funding for our Streetcar project. Today we were awarded a $25 million federal grant, which will allow us to actually begin construction this fall. But winning this grant was not easy. The mayor, city council, and streetcar supporters have been fighting non-stop for several years just to get to this point.
Meanwhile, without even thinking twice, we’re about to spend $88 million to replace the Jeremiah Morrow Bridge, Ohio’s tallest, which carries I-71 across the Little Miami River.
The current bridge must be unsafe, right?
The Warren County bridge has regularly passed safety inspections, said Smigielski.
“If it wasn’t safe, it would have been closed to traffic,” she said.
Maybe the current bridge is over-capacity?
Nope. The new bridge will have two lanes each way, just like the current bridge. (Although it will be expandable if future traffic warrants it.)
Why are we replacing this structurally-sound bridge with a new one of the exact same capacity?
Well, according to the designers of the new bridge, it will be:
“…a lot better-looking than the ugly old truss that’s out there today.”
Since the federal government picks up 90% of the cost of road projects, the states don’t really care whether road projects are “necessary”. (“Sure, we’ll spend $88 on this bridge for nothing but aesthetic reasons — The feds are picking up $79 million of the tab!”)
Transit projects are funded mostly by local and state governments, with very little federal support.
We spend years fighting for the Cincinnati Streetcar, which will earn the city $2.70 in benefits for every $1.00 that’s spend on the project. Meanwhile, no one even notices $88 million for an unnecessary project that will not create any economic benefit, other than temporary construction jobs to build it.