You may have heard that it is National Infrastructure Week. You may be thinking “Why does infrastructure get a whole week when teachers only get a day (May 3) or birds get May 4, Bird Day?” National Infrastructure Week is key in transportation discussions in that it looks at and examines the policies in place on the national level to support our infrastructure: roads, bridges and yes our public transportation systems. All transportation systems need a long term capital funding source – because whether we acknowledge it or not, roads and bridges are subsidized just like transit.
Right now, the national Highway Trust Fund is not even sustaining maintenance of existing infrastructure, and the Fund needs a source that will meet the needs of our communities now and into the future.
What could more investment fund? According to the American Public Transit Association, for every dollar communities invest in public transportation, approximately $4 is generated in economic returns. It means 1.1 million jobs are created or sustained annually, and 50,000 jobs result from the productivity gains of $1 billion in federal investment in transit. Locally, a $10.3 million dollar TIGER grant with local private matching dollars is funding the new Boyle Street MetroLink Station in Midtown along with the enhancement of the CWE Station. In addition, the Loop Trolley, which is nearing completion, was funded partially through a $24.9 million Urban Circulator Grant.
Other transit options for the future that have been tossed out in the St. Louis region include:
- Northside/Southside LRT corridor
- MetroSouth LRT corridor
- MetroNorth LRT corridor
- Daniel Boone LRT corridor
- Bus Rapid Transit
- An urban streetcar network
However, without finding a sustainable, long-term federal funding option for transit and a state funding component, these projects are much further down the track.
So this week, CMT asks you to pay attention to the infrastructure that we all so often take for granted. And please join CMT at upcoming events to participate in conversations about infrastructure in our region!