Barack Obama will build and rebuild bridges alright, but as we’ve already warned, they’re likely to be bridges to nowhere. See, in rural, unpopulated areas, there’s nobody around to put up a fuss about construction noise or a torn up road. Think this is just a theoretical concern? Ha. It’s already happening.
Meanwhile, in DC’s Maryland suburbs we’re inching ever closer to actually starting work on the Purple Line light rail. This would connect several destinations that are already served by transit and walkable transit-oriented development, provide transit access to the University of Maryland’s main campus, and also create the possibility of new transit-oriented development at additional stops along the way. It’s a good idea that will help reduce congestion on the Beltway, reduce carbon emissions, and enhance the region’s ability to keep growing in a sustainable manner. Every environmental group in the city is for it. But a group of NIMBYs centered around the town of Chevy Chase, MD and the Columbia Country Club are trying to block it in order to keep the riffraff out and are offering some spurious environmental claims to try to block construction.
And this is just normal-scale infrastructure buildout, not the whole-hog megabuild that promises to get the economy growing again in short order.
Gregor MacDonald, whose discussions of infrastructure and energy, we’ve frequently referenced, has been a major advocate of rail, and has wondered why building more commuter rail along the coasts hasn’t been Obama’s top priority. This could be the reason right here.
Even if you accept that commuter rail would give you the best bang for your long-term buck, in the short term, coastal rail is guaranteed to smack dab into the worst NIMBY opposition imaginable. In the short term, the only jobs it would produce are for lawyers — not the hard-hat wearing shovel wielders of Obama’s dreams.