Earmarks are wonderful for the people and organizations for whom they’re designated. It’s a way to bypass normal funding procedures and jumpstart or finish a project. Instead of a bureaucrat in Washington, D.C., and your state capitol analyzing your project for its funding worthiness, you work with your locally elected official to get project funding.
Earmarks also help institutions ineligible for federal funding (for example: many local museums) get projects built for them. Earmarks may mean that your project starts getting federal grants earlier.
What earmarks also do is reduce the amount of money available for formula and Department of Transportation discretionary funding as well as lower the statewide “transportation pot.” It’s also probably immoral to use political instead of objective considerations to decide which projects are funded and which aren’t.Â
However, with the right politician and the right group speaking in their ear, earmarks may mean the difference in your town getting that bike lane funded or not, because the state Department of Transportation continues to say no.
In the federal spending bill President Obama plans to sign soon, there are $7.7 billion dollars in earmarks, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense (TCS). This, so far, only includes disclosed earmarks (a handy table listing all earmarks and requesting politicians is downloadable), and the group is searching through the bill text to find the billions more in undisclosed earmarks.
- Alternative Analysis Study for the J-Route Bus Rapid Transit (BTR) Project; $237,500; Rep. Roskam
- Peoria Regional Airport; $950,000; Sen. Durbin
- DeKalb/Taylor Municipal Airport, Various Improvements; $1,235,000; Rep. Foster, Sen. Durbin
- CTA Red line Extension (Alternatives Analysis); $285,000; Rep. Jackson, Sen. Durbin
- CTA Yellow Line Extension (Alternatives Analysis); $237,500; Rep. Schakowsky, Sen. Durbin
- CTA Brown Line* (Capital Investment Grant); $30,00,000; Sen. Durbin
- CTA Circle Line** (Capital Investment Grant); $6,000,000; Sen. Durbin
- Metra Rock Island 35th St. Station Improvements; $712,500; Rep. Rush
- Multimodal Center in Normal; $237,500; Rep. Weller
- Paratransit Vehicles, West Central Mass Transit District; $104,500; Rep. LaHood
- Replacement Heavy Duty Transit Buses, Madison County Mass Transit District; $475,000; Rep. Costello
- Replacement of Paratransit Vehicles, Greater Peoria Mass Transit District, Peoria; $380,000; Rep. LaHood
And the list goes on. Click Read More for the notes about the CTA, info on Metra’s share, and BRT.
Metra would also receive $24 million in Capital Investment Grants for improvements to SouthWest Service (to Manhattan), STAR Line (circumferential suburb-to-suburb), and Union Pacific Lines Northwest (to Harvard/McHenry) and West (to Elburn via Geneva).
Note: *About the CTA Brown Line – I’m going to guess that this money is to help payback the construction bonds. The Brown Line reconstruction project cost over $550 million and is still incomplete (should be done before winter 2009). **About the CTA Circle Line – I have no idea what this $6 million is for. It could be for more alternatives analysis, right of way acquisition, environmental review, phase I/II design or engineering.
It’s interesting to read these because no one proofreads the entries. The entry about the Metra 35th St. station was originally “METRAs’” as if Metra was an acronym, and it used a possessive apostrophe. And Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is mentioned at least once as BTR. Here’s the list of BRT projects funded in this spending bill (incomplete):
- Central Avenue BRT Corridor Station Development and Enhancements, St. Petersburg, FL; $475,000; Rep. Bill Young
- AC Transit BRT Corridor, CA; $4,000,000; Sen. Feinstein
- Bellevue-Redmond BRT, WA; $10,952,330; Sens. Cantwell, Murry
About Steven Can Plan
I started this blog in 2007 as the writing assignment for an introductory urban planning class at UIC. It's about cities (mainly Chicago), GIS oftentimes, and transportation (mainly bicycling). Learn more about me, Steven Vance. I also write for Streetsblog Chicago.
Steven Can Plan is hosted on Dreamhost.
Chicago Bike Map App
The Chicago Bike Map app is a bike and street map stored entirely in your iOS device – no data connection required. The map is designed to look much like the City of Chicago's official printed and online bike map. The app works on iPhone, iPod touch, and iPad.
Highly Recommended Bike Products
So far I haven't had a flat with this tire. I've used Continental Gatorskin and Panaracer T-Serv, both of which have had flats (same Chicago streets). The Gatorskin has less tread than both, and wears to a slick surface faster.
These folding locks are lighter weight and more versatile than an equally strong u-lock.
I've used this pannier to carry groceries, books, my laptop, clothing, anything. I like it because it's stylish (but also "normal" looking at the same time), stands up on its own, is extremely durable, and has the most universal attachment system: two hooks.
Sustainable Transportation Planning: Tools for Creating Vibrant, Healthy, and Resilient Communities (Wiley Series in Sustainable Design) by Jeffrey Tumlin
I was sent a review copy. I'm really excited to open it up and start reading because I've been disappointed with textbooks in the past that don't focus on bicycle and pedestrian planning.
The Death and Life of Great American Cities (50th Anniversary Edition) (Modern Library) by Jane Jacobs
Joyride: Pedaling Toward A Healthier Planet by Mia Birk, With Joe (Metal Cowboy) Kurmaskie, Joe Kurmaskie, Jim Moore
I met Mia Birk in October 2011.