How We Roll, Nov. 18: will there ever be another New Deal?

ICYMI: Here’s our post about the new policing contract scheduled to be considered by the Metro Board on Dec. 1. Surprised there aren’t more comments on this.

ICYMI 2: And here’s our post about the second phase of the parking program the Board will also consider. Lots of comments on this one.

ICYMI 3: Some pretty cool pics of progress on the Crenshaw/LAX Line here. Such as this one:


Trump-sized idea for a new president: build something inspiring (NYT)

Early construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, the type of big mega-project some would like to see get built under President Trump.

Early construction of the Golden Gate Bridge, the type of big mega-project some would like to see get built under President Trump.

There continues to be talk — mostly in the media — that there could be political consensus on some kind of infrastructure package to create jobs under President-elect Donald Trump. The NYT’s James B. Stewart argues it should be transformative infrastructure of the New Deal variety:

Build something awe-inspiring. Something Americans can be proud of. Something that will repay the investment many times over for generations to come.

Build the modern-day equivalent of the Golden Gate Bridge, the Lincoln Tunnel or the Timberline Lodge. Or even, given Mr. Trump’s passion for the sport, another Bethpage State Park Black Course — the first public golf course to host the prestigious United States Open.

All of these are Depression-era New Deal public works projects started under President Franklin D. Roosevelt that are still in use.

Can anyone name even one infrastructure project from President Obama’s $800 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act? I didn’t think so.

Stewart goes on and suggests a pair of projects of this ilk that could use a big federal boost: California’s and Texas’ high-speed rail projects. The Golden State version is building a very short segment near Fresno and tens of billions more dollars are needed to get bullet trains running from San Francisco to Los Angeles, as the state promised voters in 2008.

Of course, there are challenges: Trump has promised to spend $1 trillion, which isn’t nearly enough, Stewart writes, to build the kind of transformative projects needed. And who knows how many conservatives could stomach replicating the New Deal, which many see as one of the original sins of big government. And there’s this little issue:


Source: Congressional Budget Office.

If you want to spend more on infrastructure, where does that money come from? Are pols willing to raise the public debt? And could an argument be made that investing in infrastructure — and transit and transportation, in particular — pays off many times over in the ensuing years?

And yet, there is a side to this that frightens some advocates, especially those who would like to see more spent on transit, walking and biking. Here’s a really interesting excerpt from an interview in the Atlantic on the impact of completing the Golden Gate Bridge in the Bay Area:

Christensen: How did the bridge change not just the Golden Gate but the surrounding communities as well?

Hartig: It certainly changed Marin. You can draw a straight line from the completion of the bridge to suburbanization in the ’60s. Marin wasn’t a suburb of San Francisco when ferries ruled the bay. And you never would have had the need for the environmental activism that led to the creation of the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which was truly a herculean effort that we all benefit from today. I also wonder if San Francisco hadn’t benefited from other New Deal federal funding, what would have happened.

That meant money could be spent on street widening in the city. Sidewalks shrunk to make traffic work. San Francisco became completely connected to the region with the Golden Gate Bridge on one side and the Bay Bridge on the other — all with federal funds. We don’t think much about how streets were changed, but it was very dramatic. It ushered in a new way to understand the city. It became much harder to be a pedestrian, and easier to be in a car. And that tension is still playing out.

As we’ve noted before, the vast majority of Americans get around by car and that’s especially true in the Red States that favored Donald Trump in the recent election. If infrastructure funding becomes an issue, it will be interesting to see how this plays out because these kind of mega-projects are multi-generational projects — they can profoundly change the landscape, development patterns and cities for decades.

The hope here is that transit performs well. Because once a project such as the Purple Line or high-speed rail is built, the only question most people will have is how we got along without it.

Stacked boxy tower to rise in DTLA Civic Center (Urbanize LA)


Right next to the future 2nd/Broadway Station being built as part of the Regional Connector project. Click above for details. The Connector is a 1.9-mile tunnel in DTLA that will link the Blue, Expo and Gold Lines, allowing one set of trains to run between Azusa (and eventually Claremont) and Long Beach and another to run between East L.A. (and eventually South El Monte and Whittier) and Santa Monica.

Millennials, Latinos voted for Measure M in huge numbers; older voters shunned it (Daily News) 

A somewhat narrow but interesting look at where the votes came from both for and against M based on polling data by the Measure M campaign. The largest group of supporters were age 18 to 29 with 85 percent in favor of M, according to the campaign. The article says that support dipped to 70 percent for voters 50 and over, which begs a math question: if support was more than 70 percent among all voters, how are the totals for now still below 70 percent? Hmmm.

Here are the latest totals, updated at 4:30 p.m. Friday by the County Registrar, which probably has about 500,000 or so votes still to be tablulated:


That said, the premise of the story sounds about right with youth voting for projects that could play a role in their commuting future with some older, suburban voters apparently not supporting it.

There was also up-and-down support (the majority of voters favored M but not always at the two-thirds threshold needed to pass) along the future Gold Line segment between Azusa and Claremont. That’s sort of interesting given that the Gold Line project is near the top of the M spending list in terms of groundbreaking and opening dates.



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