And the capital bill gets worse

Of course the capital bill from hell (or at least deepest, darkest Southern Illinois — close enough) has morphed into an even worse beast. We have Governor Goofy in charge; what else was I expecting?

The old $34 billion capital bill [pdf] lavished $16.4 billion on IDOT’s Pave All Illinois program, and an additional $1 billion for local governments to sign right on over to the paving companies. Because, you know, drivers are driving less, so we need even more roads to entice them to drive more again, or something like that. The bill also allocated $5.3 billion into transit and rail, which is about half of the money needed just to bring Northeastern Illinois’ transit system back into adequate condition.

The new, improved, 26.5%-smaller capital bill [pdf] might address some of the equity concerns that I had by removing the Chicago-money-suck (er, casino) from the funding plan, but now the funding levels are $14.4 for his pals the asphalters and $3.4 billion for transit and rail. For those keeping score at home, that’s a 12.2% cut in cement — and a 35.8% cut in rail and transit. The funding ratio went from a dreary 3:1 to a dismal 4.2:1.

Yeah, thanks a lot for nothing, G-Rod. Keep it coming.

Of course, there’s a lot that’s fundamentally wrong about the pavement emphasis in the bill: roads are simply the wrong answer. Roads are the wrong emphasis for a bill that G-Ro(a)d ostensibly keeps rah-rahing as a way to create jobs; mass transit generates many more jobs per dollar. Further, IDOT has infamously assumed that the nonstop VMT growth of the past 50 years will continue forever in a straight-line fashion, and thus that the demand for roads will insatiably grow into perpetuity — long after everyone is spending 24 hours a day driving. Of course, they’re wrong; VMT growth hit a wall several years ago and recently went into sharp reverse.

vmt growth has hit a wall

(Courtesy Joseph Romm/Climate Progress/Gristmill)