Thursday, December 11, 2008

What Might the O-Deal Bring Austin?

The U.S. Conference of Mayors, apparently not wanting to miss out on whatever monies could possibly be thrown to their respective cities by an Obama administration as part of its new New Deal (or, as I've decided to call it, the O-Deal), has hastily thrown together an incredible list of thousands of projects which are "Ready to Go", with info on funding requirements and jobs created by each project. (See the 4MB PDF file for more information.)

Austin, of course, is right in the thick of this group of cities with their hands out, having listed 160 projects awaiting funding. I'm not going to say that these projects aren't going to be helpful (some will), but I have noticed that some of these projects have been languishing for years because the city hasn't given them priority. Why, then, should the feds pay for it, if we won't?

Some highlights from Austin's wish list:
  • Upgrade existing MetroRail commuter rail line: $80,000,000/400 jobs. Shouldn't we, you know, wait for it to actually open and see if it gets the ridership Cap Metro hopes it'll get, before we throw even more money at it?
  • Expansion of MetroRail Red Line: $80,000,000/3,760 jobs. Yes, these are two different items. No, I don't think this one's worth it, either.
  • Relocation of 6000 LF of 16" waterline on FM 2304 - Ravenscroft to FM 1625 (sic) to accommodate State Highway Improvement project by Texas Department of Transportation: $2,200,000/7 jobs. Translation: they're finally going to widen the south part of Manchaca. Good.
  • Brodie Lane Sidewalk Project - Sidewalk on both sides of Brodie Ln. from Travis County line north to Slaughter: $1,500,000/40 jobs. Sidewalks are generally a good thing, particularly on a road such as Brodie, which is too narrow for the traffic flow it has, and which will never be widened. (Now, let's just finish Texas 45, so we can all bypass Brodie and make everyone happy!) By the way, this is listed as a water project, as are many others...I'm not sure if the city checked the wrong box on a lot of projects, or what.
  • Westgate Blvd from Cameron Loop to Cohoba Dr.: $2,000,000/65 jobs. Yes, please, finish West Gate, and as soon as possible!
  • The Waller Creek Tunnel (WCT) Project: $127,500,000/1,836 jobs. How long ago was this supposed to have been finished?
(Hat tip: Batesline, which clued me in to this whole report.)


lastnamehand said...

Why, then, should the feds pay for it, if we won't?

Perhaps because the city of Austin doesn't have the money?

To oppose these kinds of projects, or to oppose the 6108 jobs they would create, ...well you are definitely in a very small minority.

Snowed In said...

I never said I opposed the fact, I said some of them would be quite helpful (I, for one, would love to have West Gate finished). I just happen to think that paying for some of these projects would be throwing good money after bad. The obvious example would be continuing to prop up Cap Metro's devotion to commuter rail (to which Mike Dahmus can speak much more effectively than can I).

And besides, your argument infers that any job is worth paying for, regardless of how useless/sisyphean said job is. There's got to be more analysis of jobs to be created than that.

As for what the City of Austin does with its money...well, that's a topic in and of itself. One day I'd love to delve in detail into the inner workings of the city budget. That day is not going to happen in 2008.