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America, America, Where the Streets Are Paved with Cheese

If you guessed that this headline references An American Tail, the animated epic story of Fivel and his Mousekewitz family, who embark on a dangerous journey from Russia to the States in search of equal parts American Dream and undying love, then congratulations: you've just won a new bridge, carpool lane, or median strip guardrail. Zounds!As part of the old American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (haven't you heard?), President Obama delivered billions (love that B!) of dollars to the states on Tuesday for transportation initiatives. Fun fact: Each state gets to determine how it uses its share of the cash-money. The Times has a state-by-state rundown of underway proposals here as well as this to say:There is nothing monumental in President Obama's plan to revive the economy with a coast-to-coast building spree, no historic New Deal public works. The goal of the stimulus plan was to put people to work quickly, and so states across the country have begun to spend nearly $50 billion on thousands of smaller transportation projects that could employ up to 400,000 people, by the administration's estimates.For some states, this new found right to choose has resulted in quarreling and road blocks. But others are getting down to shovel-ready business. The plan that Maryland has proposed seems to make a good deal of sense. It's opting to fix its existing infrastructure rather than building a bunch of new roads. Maryland's transportation secretary, John D. Porcari, offered this delightful simile (which, in this case, is also kind of a synecdoche) as explanation:"It's like maintaining your car: if you neglect the relatively easy periodic maintenance, you're building up to a very big bill - and eventually replacing it," Mr. Porcari said. "Instead of having one or two or three megaprojects, we have literally dozens and dozens of projects in every corner of the state, which maximizes the ability of local firms to compete for them."I recommend you investigate how your state plans to use the money, just in case your state legislature isn't familiar with something like induced demand syndrome-sometimes called the Atlanta Effect-or another, equally unfortunate folly. At the very least, you can learn how much cheese it takes to pave your street.

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