Stimulus Plan's Affect on Transportation Industry Research Paper

Pages: 6 (2047 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 12  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Transportation

Transportation Infrastructure Implications of the Federal Stimulus Plan

The White House's economic stimulus plan has potentially far-reaching implications for all Americans. The plan has set up a means for local and region governments to request funds for transportation infrastructure projects. Part of the plan also includes an innovation investment, where firms and individuals are encouraged to develop new technologies and ideas to help boost transportation infrastructure efficiency, among other things, and to help rebuild the shattered economy. The White House claims that the $100 billion dollar innovation investment will help to generate new technologies and approaches to transportation. There are many different approaches to how this money should be spent, some more altruistic while other approaches are entirely political. The new transportation infrastructure will certainly have a positive impact on Americans and on foreign policy, but the size and scope of this impact depends on how effectively and wisely the funds are put to work. The first stimulus funds have begun to trickle in to infrastructure projects around the nation, and it remains to be seen what the ultimate impact of this plan will be.Download full Download Microsoft Word File
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TOPIC: Research Paper on Stimulus Plan's Affect on Transportation Industry Assignment

There are rules on how the federal stimulus plan money can be spent at the local level. Roughly $50 billion dollars of the money was designated as stimulus money to be spent on infrastructure. The states all have a "wish list" of projects and special interests looking to receive part of this funding. Many states have projects that would spend the entire $50 billion in one state (Wilson, 2009). Some legislators and lobbyists are looking to spend money where it can be utilized in creating jobs while others are focusing on securing part of the $50 billion dollars to help modernize and increase the efficiency of existing transportation infrastructure. $50 will certainly be nowhere near enough to completely modernize the U.S.'s transportation infrastructure, but if it is used wisely, the money should be able to generate jobs and economic activity and growth over the next few decades. It could also help put the U.S. On par with other, more technologically advanced transportation infrastructures around the globe.

The U.S.'s infrastructure has been in a state of disrepair for some time. The initial investments made by the Eisenhower Administration in the 1950's to build the U.S. highway system have paid back dividends of trillions of dollars in economic activity and access to travel. These investments have gone largely un-maintained, as many states and counties can attest to. Bridges, rail lines, and roads themselves have fallen into disrepair in many parts of the country. This leaves a many people to wonder if the stimulus plan money would be better spent building transportation technologies and infrastructures of the future, rather than sinking billions into the same transportation lifelines that have only fallen apart and become neglected. Even the traffic signals in most towns are not efficient. The Federal Highway Administration estimates that nearly 75% of traffic signals are poorly coordinated with nearby signals and typical traffic flows (O'Toole, 2009). Reducing this number by even half would result in massive efficiency gains at the local levels.

Another policy shift that could have profoundly positive results on any infrastructure stimulus spending would be to charge access or user fees on newly built or maintained roads, rail, or other infrastructure. Through this method, the project would effectively be a low interest loan to be covered down the road a few years by user fees. These fees could also pay for the upkeep and maintenance of the project after it has been completed. Certainly the idea of toll highways and bridges is not new, and people looking to save time and gas are certainly willing to weigh their options relative to user fees or other transport routes. User fees make sense from the deficit standpoint, and help to reduce spending that creates a hole somewhere else in the budget. These projects would more than pay for themselves many times over.

Deciding what the best use of stimulus money is an act in subjectivity. It would likely be a balance between maintaining old transportation structures and building new ones. Another consideration is how the money will be divided relative to major centers of population. According to a New York Times article (Cooper and Griff, 2009), less than half of the stimulus money set aside for transportation infrastructure improvements will go to the 100 largest metropolitan areas in the U.S. These metropolitan areas account for over 75% of the nation's economic activity, yet they are being largely shut out of stimulus funding in favor of pothole and surface repairs on rural roads and highways. It seems as though the stimulus money is not being spent as wisely, or at least not in a utilitarian manner. Many legislators are quick to spend the stimulus money on projects within their own constituencies. And tracking the funds and how they are used may prove to be more difficult than first imagined. If funds go to local transit authorities, these entities would have the final say as to how the money is spent, and would not be responsible for ultimately reporting back to the government exactly how and where the funds were spent (MacGillis, 2009). This is troubling, since many U.S. citizens were up in arms about their tax money going to feed stimulus projects, whether they are associated with transportation infrastructure or not.

Environmentally, the stimulus money could also help to reduce carbon emissions while increasing the fuel efficiency of many forms of transport. Transport infrastructure is not only about roads and rails, but also about seaports and airports as well. Anything that helps to increase the efficiency of goods, services, energy, information, and traffic could be touted as an infrastructure development, but many parts of the U.S. transportation infrastructure are not directly related to movement. This sort of infrastructure, labeled "green infrastructure" by the Obama Administration, will likely receive up to $600 million dollars of the stimulus money for undertakings designated as "green infrastructure" projects. This is an important step toward a sustainable future, and the American public should be happy that the federal stimulus is including this sort of work into the recovery act. It is not only important that the U.S. invest in a new generation of transportation infrastructure, but that this new generation is sustainable and environmentally friendly. According to the Obama Administration, green infrastructure projects would benefit the country in two ways, through immediate stimulus and lasting infrastructure benefits (Williams, 2009). Any infrastructure improvements would also help to reduce the U.S.'s dependence on foreign oil.

The European and Japanese models of high speed rail transit would fit the U.S. rather well, given the fact that air travel is becoming more expensive as fuel prices rise and people are no longer as willing to pile into the family car and drive to their destination. A series of high speed rail transit systems would give travelers the ability to cross the country in just a few days, or move from state to state in a few hours rather easily. High speed trains burn less fuel than other modes of transport and cost less to maintain (Baker, 2009). High speed train travel has been something that U.S. designers and builders have dreamed about for years. Within the stimulus plan, a high speed rail system project was awarded over $8 billion dollars, a surprisingly large amount of money (Wilson, 2009). This money will go to designing and implementing small-scale high speed rail infrastructure, with the idea being that once the smaller scale systems have proven successful and popular, the U.S. government will push more money toward furthering the rail lines and strengthening the entire system.

Another often overlooked area of the transportation infrastructure is that infrastructure that moves information. The U.S. broadband internet access infrastructure is quite small in comparison to many countries in Europe and Asia. The stimulus plan also provides for a massive re-tooling of the U.S. broadband network in an effort to help ease the tension on the already out of date U.S. power and connectivity grids. According to authors Katz and Suter (2009), by equipping the U.S. with an efficient high-speed broadband network, jobs would be created and supported in ways that were once unheard of. The authors also estimate that the broadband system would have a job multiplier of at least 2 times, meaning that for every initial job created by the building of this new infrastructure, another job would be created based on the positive economic impact of the network on the entire economy (Katz and Suter, 2009). Other researchers, like Professor David A. Swenson (2009) disagree, and feel as though the job multiplier created by this particular effort would be far less than Katz and Suter posit. While the construction of a national broadband network would not generate as many jobs upfront as the construction of roads and bridges, which tends to be much more labor intensive up front, the broadband network's payoff in terms of employment would be steady… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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How to Cite "Stimulus Plan's Affect on Transportation Industry" Research Paper in a Bibliography:

APA Style

Stimulus Plan's Affect on Transportation Industry.  (2010, August 28).  Retrieved December 6, 2021, from

MLA Format

"Stimulus Plan's Affect on Transportation Industry."  28 August 2010.  Web.  6 December 2021. <>.

Chicago Style

"Stimulus Plan's Affect on Transportation Industry."  August 28, 2010.  Accessed December 6, 2021.