Transportation headlines, Tuesday, Sept. 7

Here is a look at some of the transportation headlines gathered by us and the Metro Library. The full list of headlines is posted on the library’s blog.

Does Obama’s plan for fixing infrastructure go far enough? (Brookings Institution)

In a Labor Day speech in Milwaukee, President Obama announced he wants to pump $50 billion into road, rail and runway projects. The Institute likes the idea, but has questions about paying for it. Excerpt:

The challenge is how to get this done. Transportation policy in the U.S. is not stalled due to a lack of good ideas. It is stalled due to a lack of funding, or, more accurately, for a lack of interest in raising taxes to generate the funding. Most of what the president proposed is traditionally funded by the tax on gasoline. But as driving declines, and as more fuel-efficient cars mean we’re consuming less gas (it’s true!), there’s much less money overall.

The president has taken any gas tax increase off the table and instead, has proposed to repeal the domestic manufacturing deduction for oil and gas production. This may be enough to fund parts of the president’s plan, and that’s good, but it is short of the comprehensive package we need.

Of course, none of this is a done deal yet. This is election season and legislation hasn’t exactly been sailing through Congress. As the L.A. Times reports, Republicans are already criticizing Obama’s plan, saying it won’t help lift the nation’s economy.

How can L.A. adapt to climate change? (Scientific American)

In this excerpt from Matthew Kahn’s new book, “Climatopolis,” the author says that global warming could strip away much of L.A.’s “climate uniqueness.” That is, warm winters and relatively cool summers compared to other regions in the U.S. If so, he predicts that could cause a greater decline in real estate values as we become more like everywhere else. On the other hand, he predicts Las Vegas will have a better overall climate because of more rain. It’s a long article and that’s just one point, albeit a provocative one.

This is a lot of heavy stuff for the morning after a holiday weekend. So let’s take a break, with today’s transit-themed musical interlude “5.15” by The Who.

Which downtown L.A. streets should be turned into pedestrian plazas? (Curbed LA)

Taking a page from the New York City and Mayor Bloomberg playbook, Curbed lets readers decide among several options. Winning thus far is to permanently close Chick Hearn Court between Staples Center and L.A. Live — an idea that earned my vote.