My local city has submitted a list of 20 projects totaling $28 million and some change as "ready to go" projects for the stimulus bill working its way through Congress right now. Most of those are sewer and water projects and I don't know where those stand. The largest single one is for an upgrade to an intersection that is only a few blocks from my house and that I use daily to go to and from work. Here's what it looks like today:
Here's what the city would like it to look like:
Purty. The total budget for the project is about $18 million. The city has already spent $3 million on right of way acquisitions and has another $5.9 million in federal funds already(which irks me as it is. Why are the feds giving us any money for a state/local bridge?). They were looking for state funding for the rest before our $5 billion dollar state shortfall probably put an end to that. Enter Uncle Sam again and the American Recovery and Reinvestment act of 2009. It's not a done deal yet, however this is listed as one of the projects still in the running at this point by the Minnesota DOT. They are asking for an additional $9 million from the feds.
Here's the deal. I would love to see this project go through at some point in time. This area is a royal pain in the ass to travel through during rush hour some days and this is a great solution to that and to relieve congestion on state highway 7. But do we really need it now? Are things so congested that even in tough economic times this is a priority? The answer to me is clearly no on both counts.
The city says it will create 200 jobs, the state says 250. Maybe those jobs do make it worth doing now anyway, but I would be more comfortable about that if we were not pawning off the cost of it onto future generations. It seems to me that government should be tightening its belt and not going whole hog, so to speak, on more spending.
We've had recessions before and we will have them again. We should let the excesses of the past be wrung out of the economy, as painful as that can be, and if anything just help people cope with that. Adding a trillion dollars of more debt onto the backs of our children is not the honorable way to go. We should suck it up and put off projects like that bridge until we can afford to pay for them ourselves, however worthy they may be overall.
Maybe if we stopped sending money to DC so it can be doled back to us after a little asskissing lobbying we could afford stuff like this on our own.