Transportation is a jobs creator
By Chris Hagerbaumer, Oregon Environmental Council
Oregon Environmental Council
Chris Hagerbaumer is the deputy director of the Oregon Environmental Council.
"This is a jobs bill; 2.8 million jobs hang in the balance."
That's what Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., had to say about the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act, known as MAP-21.
Earlier this month, the U.S. Senate approved MAP-21 (download a copy of the act here) a new federal transportation act with a strong bipartisan vote of 74-22.
While not perfect, MAP-21 makes important policy strides and maintains the funding levels needed to preserve and expand our transportation infrastructure. Likewise, President Obama’s 2013 Budget Request for the USDOT would allow the nation to move forward with important transportation investments that emphasize safety and leverage transportation innovations.
Sadly, the U.S. House stands in the way, despite the fact that transportation investments are critical to steer our economy in the right direction. Faced with a looming deadline of March 31 for the expiration of funding for transportation and infrastructure projects, Rep. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and colleagues on Tuesday sent a bipartisan letter to U.S. House leadership urging them to consider the bill instead of issuing a short-term extension.
Most folks know that investing in transportation infrastructure generates significant jobs for middle class workers in design, engineering, construction and other areas of our economy. What many might not know is that investing in non-motorized transportation options—the transportation infrastructure most essential for safe and healthy communities and most protective of our environment—creates the most jobs.
A study of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act transportation investments — conducted for the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials and published in January — found that “transportation enhancement” projects, most of which are non-motorized transportation infrastructure such as trails, bike paths and sidewalks, generated more jobs than any other form of ARRA transportation construction. Transportation enhancement projects generated 17.03 full-time equivalent planning and construction jobs per $1 million invested. In comparison, pavement widening came in at 12.69 jobs per $1 million, and road resurfacing at 9.01 jobs per $1 million.
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