Take Me Home, Country Road

So, it looks like urban areas are getting “shortchanged” in stimulus transportation dollars:

Two-thirds of the country lives in large metropolitan areas, home to the nation’s worst traffic jams and some of its oldest roads and bridges. But cities and their surrounding regions are getting far less than two-thirds of federal transportation stimulus money. According to an analysis by The New York Times of 5,274 transportation projects approved so far — the most complete look yet at how states plan to spend their stimulus money — the 100 largest metropolitan areas are getting less than half the money from the biggest pot of transportation stimulus money.

A lot of folks have been complaining in this state about how WSDOT peanut buttered the money around, and apparently that’s pretty typical.  According to the NYT, more than half of the stimulus money will be spent on “pavement improvement” projects, mostly repaving rutted and potholed roads.

One of the main reasons that these dollars went to pavement improvement is that it was the easiest to get them “shovel ready” during the first 90 days after the act was passed. Unless you happened to be undertaking a major public works project and were missing funding for it in the spring (which is unlikely since not a lot of projects get started without the financing finalized), it literally didn’t qualify. What’s funny about that now, of course, is that we’re six month in and only 10% of the money spent, so it’s not like giving a bigger window of eligibility would have made that much of a difference in recovery. Ah, painful irony.

Hat Tip to Publicola for the catch.

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