Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Finally... "Bush Signs $286.4 Billion Highway Bill in Illinois"

From the AP News Wire:
Bush Signs $286.4 Billion Highway Bill in Illinois

By Nedra Pickler Associated Press Writer
Published: Aug 10, 2005

MONTGOMERY, Ill. (AP) - President Bush, saying it will help economic growth, on Wednesday signed a whopping $286.4 billion transportation bill that lawmakers lined with plenty of cash for some 6,000 pet projects back home.

With fanfare, Bush signed the more than 1,000-page highway bill into law at a plant operated by Caterpillar Inc., which makes road-building equipment. For the president, it was his second trip away from his Texas ranch this week to highlight recently passed legislation.

"If we want people working in America, we got to make sure our highways and roads are modern," Bush said. "We've got to bring up this transportation system into the 21st century."

"I mean, you can't expect your farmers to be able to get goods to market if we don't have a good road system," he said. "You can't expect to get these Caterpillar products all around the United States if we don't have a good road system."

The House and Senate voted overwhelmingly to pass the six-year highway and mass transit legislation just before heading home for a summer break. They left Washington carrying promises of new highway and bridge projects, rail and bus facilities, and bike paths and recreational trails they secured for their states and districts.

The president left Texas during a downpour and ended up speaking under a bright sun at the plant where a crane sported a sign saying "Improving Highway Safety for America." The Chicago suburb is represented by House Speaker Dennis Hastert, R-Ill., who introduced Bush at the event.

"I'm here to sign the highway bill because I believe by signing this bill, when it's fully implemented, there's going to be more demand for the machines you make here," Bush said, adding that a piece of Caterpillar equipment is used at his ranch.

"Because there's more demand for the machines you make here," he said, "there are going to be more jobs created around places like this facility."

AP-ES-08-10-05 1157EDT
Regardless of what everyone else thinks, this was needed three years ago. And I personally think Bush would have done better in the election had he been able to get this signed into law then. All he had to do was call it what it is... a massive jobs bill. (pork and all).
Just think of the jobs this will provide for the Cleveland region: Innerbelt, West Shoreway Boulevard, Various transit hubs, and so on. many jobs spread out over many years. The payrol taxes alone will be a benifit for the city.
Now we need to make sure ANY current and future, local and state administrations don't screw it up.

Anne Canby of the Surface Transportation Policy Project responds on the enactment by saying:
Much has changed since Congress initiated debate on the new transportation law more than three years ago. Energy supplies are more uncertain, gasoline costs are much higher and rising, and there is a greater urgency to connect our national energy, health, environmental and transportation policies. Despite some improvements in the safety area, Congress largely ignored these broader issues, leaving state and local leaders to address them on their own. Adding to the challenge, the huge increase in Congressional project earmarks reduces the resources that will be available to state and local leaders to respond to these national issues.

It is now up to our governors, mayors, county executives and other elected officials to make better transportation choices for transit, walking, bicycling, freight movement, and land use and development, mindful of these broader national challenges. The STPP Coalition calls on state and local leaders to act decisively and fill this void.

Now we have a mission.