Mayors line up for infrastructure aid
The U.S. Conference of Mayors on Monday put up its inventory of ready-to-go infrastructure projects as the competition for federal economic stimulus dollars heats up.
The mayors said 427 cities have 11,391 locally approved public works projects totaling $73 billion that could be completed in two years and create more than 848,000 jobs if emergency funding is made available. The projects range from modernizing schools, to transit and highway infrastructure, to public safety and public housing.
Last month the conference issued an initial list of 4,645 infrastructure projects costing $25 billion that would create almost 262,000 jobs. The list was based on a survey of 154 cities.
The mayors are competing with the nation’s governors who want $136 billion for more than 5,100 highway projects and other infrastructure.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg said in a statement: “This kind of stimulus is not a one-shot deal. In fact, monies invested through programs like infrastructure generate $1.50 or more per dollar spent. That’s a welcome figure for anyone concerned about balancing a budget, making a payroll, funding needed services or any combination of the three.”
Conference leaders met with Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, who supports funding for urban communities.
Also, Sen. Barbara Boxer, chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, sent a letter to President-elect Barack Obama outlining the state of the nation’s transportation infrastructure and supporting Obama’s aggressive rebuilding plans.
The letter pointed to studies that show the need for up to $286 billion in annual funding through 2020 for roads, bridges, rail, transit and other facilities, that 27 percent of the nation’s 585,000 bridges are structurally deficient and that China spends roughly four times as much as the United States on infrastructure as a proportion of gross domestic product.
“Even if we were not in this economic crisis, it is clear that if America is to thrive in this century, if we are to compete in this century, we must move people and goods in an efficient manner and right now we cannot do it,” Boxer said at a press conference, according to a copy of her prepared remarks. ' Eric Kulisch