President Obama announces new transportation funding that could bode well for Metro transit and road projects

The government relations staff at Metro just sent the following update to the agency’s management and Board of Directors:

This afternoon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, President Obama announced a multi-billion dollar initiative to boost infrastructure spending in America. Specifically, the White House plan would direct funding to rebuild 150,000 miles of roadways, invest heavily in the New Starts program to build new transit systems and invest in new airport technologies and runways. In addition, the President outlined his support for the creation of a national infrastructure bank that could be used to leverage private, state and local funds to build new infrastructure projects, including highways and transit projects. Our agency and our federal advocates are in direct contact with officials in Washington, DC regarding this announcement and will continue to work to ensure that our Board approved plan to accelerate Los Angeles County highway and transit projects is integrated into the infrastructure initiative the White House presents to Congress. President Obama made his remarks at the MILWAUKEE LABORFEST in Wisconsin, which was also attended by U.S. Senator Herb Kohl; Congresswoman Gwen Moore; U.S. Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis; U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and AFL-CIO President Rich Trumka.

Here is the press release from the White House. The release says that $50 billion is aimed at rebuilding 150,000 miles of roadways, maintaining or constructing 4,000 miles of rail and rehabilitating 150 miles of runways. It also appears that Congressional approval for much of this will be needed.

It’s worth noting that a national infrastructure bank, expanded New Starts funding for large transit projects and money for road projects mirror some of the same things that Metro is seeking as part of its 30/10 Initiative to use federal loans and financing to speed the construction Measure R projects. As is always the case in transportation funding, the devil is in the details — which we’ll provide as soon as we know more.