Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood made two separate announcements last week about providing funds for transportation projects that cited environmental benefits as their main selling point.
On Monday, DOT announced that 27 transit projects will receive $1.58 billion "that will improve public transportation access for millions of Americans while reducing our dependence on foreign oil and curbing air pollution."
On Wednesday, DOT announced a $101.4 million competitive grant for transit providers, proposing "projects that create 'green' jobs, promote the use of clean fuels and cut our nation's dependence on oil."
Maybe LaHood is on to something. A recent national phone survey from the Mineta Transportation Institute found that the public's meager 24 percent support for a 10-cent-per-gallon gas tax hike rose to 45 percent once respondents were told that the incremental revenue was to be spent on reducing global warming. The acceptance rate rose to 48 percent when respondents were told that the revenue was to be spent on reducing local air pollution.
How can improvements in the nation's infrastructure also improve the environment? How helpful is the environmental argument to promote transportation investment? Should infrastructure advocates and environmentalists combine forces to push for more investment in roads, bridges, railways, and transit? Are there areas of conflict between environmentalists and transportation gurus that would harm such a partnership?
(And thanks for the tip, Infrastructurist!)