Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Senate Recommendations For Rail Transit Spending in FY 2009 Appropriations Bill

The U.S. Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and other Related Agencies released its marked-up fiscal year 2009 appropriations bill yesterday, and it is now available online.

While housing is definitely important in these times of foreclosures (granted, many of those being foreclosed on have to take some blame for buying houses beyond their means; at the same time, the real estate industry wasn't offering anything else other than the insane sprawling large subdivisions, and local governments have been completely failing to stop and even encouraging such housing), and urban development is very, very crucial, I'm going to focus mainly on the public transportation parts of the bill.

Keep in mind that the subcommittee has Senators from the following 21 states: Alabama (Shelby), Alaska (Stevens), California (Feinstein), Colorado (Allard), Illinois (Durbin), Iowa (Harkin), Kansas (Brownback), Maryland (Mikulski), Missouri (Bond), New Jersey (Lautenberg), New Mexico (Domenici), North Dakota (Dorgan), Pensylvania (Specter), South Dakota (Johnson), Tennessee (Alexander), Texas (Hutchison), Utah (Hatch), Vermont (Leahy), Washington (Murray), West Virginia (Byrd), and Wisconsin (Kohl).

While they are unfortunately still spending what I think is too much money on so-called "bus rapid transit", and far, far too little on metro-area rail transit (and, of course, even more so when it comes to intercity rail) there are still significant spending recommendations for rail. Of the nearly 1.75 billion dollars recommended, over 1.6 billion is for some sort of rail improvement

Here's a look by Metropolitan area:

Minneapolis-St. Paul

  • $20,000,000 for the Central Corridor Light Rail Transit Project, which will be running between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis past the University of Minnesota

  • $71,166,060 for the Northstar Corridor Rail Project, a commuter rail line from St. Cloud to Minneapolis


  • $1,031,210 for futher improvements to the Southeast Light Rail Corridor (I believe to Lone Tree, Colorado)

  • $70,000,000 for the West Corridor Light Rail to Jefferson County, Colorado in the Denver suburbs


  • $91,800,000 for the finishing touches for the starter line for the Valley Metro; Phoenix is, along with the auto-based (and somewhat responsible for our situation) Detroit and sprawled out the wazoo Orlando, the only metro areas of over 2,000,000 people in the U.S. without a currently active rail system of some kind [though the TECO line Streetcar in Tampa barely, barely counts]

Washington, DC

  • $34,700,000 for the Largo Metrorail Extension (I'm not exactly sure what this is for, but I'm guessing capacity extensions; they are desperately needed, as the system is hitting capacity in places; July 11, 2008 beat out the record set by Ronald Reagan's laying in the rotunda [so ironic given how anti-sustainability the man was])

  • $30,000,000 for the Dulles Corridor Rail Project, VA (Silver Line); one of a very few major airports in the Northeast lacking a high-speed transit extension [Logan in Boston has the Silver Line, which is Bus Rapid Transit, and LaGuardia oddly has no rail link; I believe every other airport servicing the Northeast corridor does, except maybe one in Providence or Southern Connecticut]

  • $5,000,000 for VRE Rolling Stock (New Trains)

  • $2,000,000 for improvements to the highly congested Rosslyn Metro Station (where the orange and blue lines branch out on the East side; it's the next stop Virginia-wards from GWU's Foggy Bottom stop

  • $15,000,000 for MARC Commuter Rail Improvements and Rolling Stock (New Trains and really desperately needed capacity increases; demand is now exceeding capacity for rush hour)

$18,000,000 for engineering the Northeast Extension to Charlotte's successful recently opened Blue Line in its significant planned rail system
$87,974,716 for Dallas Area Rapid Transit Northwest/Southeast Light Rail MOS, building the Orange and Green line extensions to the Dallas light rail system, doubling its length and eventually servicing both Love Field and DFW International
$10,000,000 for further planning on its hopefully-to-happen 5 line light rail system
$20,000,000 for work on its "High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project". There is a huge fight over this going on in Hawai'i. A Paultard scumbag from Texas (ha, I was right, she literally is a Paultard; gave him $1,000) by the name of Jamie Story is heading an astroturf operation with a few misguided locals like Eric Ryan, who founded "Stop Rail Now", to stop what is an unbelievably sensible plan.


A) Has the 4th highest trips/person/year taken on transit of any urbanized area in the country, coming in behind only the extremely heavily rail infrastucture, developed Washington, DC; San Francisco/Oakland, and of course the New York City metro area; it beats out places like Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston,
B) Part of the reason is that Honolulu Has to ship in diesel/gasoline/any liquid fuels at significant expense to power itself and its cars and as such, has generally had the highest gasoline prices in the nation.
C) Due to the islands being very sunny and tropical, and of course, being volcanic, and having a lot of windy areas off the islands, the Hawaiian islands can probably power themselves solely with geothermal and solar and wind. But that does no good without an electrified transportation system.

New York

  • $197,370,000 to build the East Side Access to allow the Long Island Railroad to come into Grand Central Station, making commutes far easier for many Long Islanders

  • $1,103,860 for the highly successful (both in ridership and especially in redevelopment; anyone who'd been to the West Side of Hoboken 10 years ago but came back today will agree

  • $249,927,000 for the Second Avenue subway-studies began when my late grandfather was living there as a 2-year old in 1919. Construction began 36 years ago and was halted; it will reduce congestion and I believe put all of Manhattan Island within half a mile of a subway stop

  • $5,000,000 for studying a Stamford Urban Transitway, a proposed light rail system for Stamford

  • $75,000,000 for moving towards construction of a Midtown tunnel under the Hudson to relieve capacity strains on the Northeast Corridor and the PATH and also increase access

Hampton Roads
$57,055,734 to continue building the first link in its light rail system

  • $50,000,000 for the second streetcar loop for Portland

  • $81,600,000 for building the South Corridor Light Rail line (heading down from the Portland Mall)


  • $27,000,000 to increase speed and capacity on the Fitchburg Commuter Rail Line

  • $1,345,500 for planning for the South County Commuter Rail, Wickford Junction Station, RI from Boston to Providence


  • $29,474,404 for rebuilding infrastructure and increasing capacity on the 100-year old Brown Line

  • $8,000,000 for continued studying to build a much-needed Circle Line to allow travel between lines without having to go through the Loop

  • $6,607,000 for continued studies to move forward on significant planned expansions of the METRA commuter rail service


  • $28,846,735 to finish the initial Central Link for Seattle's planned light rail system (it ran into some problems after voters rejected financing the new plans last November, but most of the system will likely still be built, if more slowly)

  • $100,000,000 to start building the light rail link to the University of Washington [my dad got around Seattle as a grad student generally without a car, either by bike or by bus, but this'll make a car even less necessary, and students always use rail].

$7,000,000 to continue studying a new corridor (hopefully for rail) south of Sacramento
$20,000,000 for expansions of the Orange Line of the Miami-Dade metrorail
San Diego
$21,650,000 for building the mid-city rapid extension to the San Diego Trolley
San Francisco
$8,000,000 for continuing to move forward on the Third Street Light Rail/Subway Project
Los Angeles

  • $50,000,000 for building the Perris Valley Extension to Metrolink

  • $74,600,000 for building the East Extension to the Gold Line

Salt Lake City

  • $10,000,000 for engineering/studying the Mid Jordan light rail extension

  • $81,600,000 for final finishes to the first part of the Commuter Rail System

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