Rural areas are taking home a disproportionate share of the federal stimulus package’s transportation dollars.
Two-thirds of the country lives in big cities, but major metropolitan areas are receiving much less than two-thirds of the transportation stimulus money, The New York Times reported.
Of the 5,274 transportation projects approved so far, less than half the spending is going to the 100 largest metropolitan areas.
Yet those areas account for 75 percent of the country’s economic output, according to The Times. The big cities, of course, experience the worst traffic jams and are home to some of the roads and bridges most in need of upkeep.
The federal stimulus package allocates $26.6 billion for transportation projects, but delegates any decision on how to spend most of that kitty to the states.
And state governments often favor rural areas over urban ones. Many experts criticized this approach.
“If we’re trying to recover the nation’s economy, we should be focusing where the economy is, which is in these large areas,” Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program, told The Times.
“But states take this peanut-butter approach, taking the dollars and spreading them around very thinly, rather than taking the dollars and concentrating them where the most complex transportation problems are,” Puentes said.
According to a Government Accountability Office report released Wednesday, states are using their stimulus money for immediate needs rather than long-term projects, CNNMoney.com reported.
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