Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What the stimulus could mean for us

One of the things I've been curious about with regard to proposed infrastructure projects in Athens-Clarke County is exactly how those projects were selected. Namely, that projects that will either install an intersection at Mitchell Bridge Road or built a deck at a park aren't really ones that will have a long-term, significant effect on the community. Not that aren't necessary upgrades or renovations that will provide real jobs and real paychecks to workers, but that they don't seem to be big-picture types of projects.

And, if the federal government is willing to invest $1 trillion over the next two years into our infrastructure needs, we ought to be crafting a plan that can bring about some much-needed changes that will benefit us in the long-term.

Mayor Heidi Davison explained that the existing projects in the United States Conference of Mayors report were drawn from recommendations of 'shovel-ready' projects ...

The list submitted to the USCM was developed by staff using the criteria that they had to be ready to go in 90 days, if memory serves. So, it wasn't so much a wish list as one that represents projects that have proceeded through all the necessary stages and now lacking only funding.

Davison said because the initial list involved only ready-to-go infrastructure projects, they were aimed at getting jobs created immediately. Furthermore, she noted that the proposed projects 'aren't set in stone' ...

My guess is that once legislation is crafted and approved we will have a better sense of what can be funded, criteria to receive funding, etc. allowing us to apply and be considered. The lists currently being generated are, in my opinion, being done to give the administration a sense of the breath, depth, scope, etc. of projects cities need assistance with so that a stimulus package that is realistic can be created. I doubt this list is set in stone.

I hope that it's not because I'd like to see some significantly larger projects be featured in any future requests. For instance, if there's ever a time to find financing for something like 'The Brain Train' then this is it. If there's ever a time to develop a comprehensive public transit system - and I mean an interconnected system of light rail, bus, etc. - to service all of North Georgia, this is it. If there's ever a time to expand and renovate The Loop, this is it. If there's ever a time to give a much needed facelift to Atlanta Highway, this is it.

There's a tremendous opportunity to be had here, and we ought to seize it. It will require some regional cooperation and some outside-the-box thinking, but there's a chance to lay a foundation of future economic growth through comprehensive transportation planning ... and that's something we shouldn't pass on.


Blogger paveplanet said...


All of your suggestions are fine and all but they miss the main criteria that the President-elect said was paramount: they have to be ready for construction in the next 180 days - at least that is what Blake reported. None of your suggestions have even been started to enter the design process - that alone can take years.

2:33 PM  

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