Where They Stand: Obama and McCain on Transportation

2887816920_248097e966_o.jpgWith a few hours to go until what will be the season’s first presidential debate, we’re looking over a report from the Brookings Institution, which outlines each candidate’s positions on transportation.

The six-page report [PDF] holds few if any surprises for Streetsbloggers, but it nicely highlights respective statements from McCain and Obama on topics like federal spending, road pricing and public transportation, with links to source materials.

One category in particular caught our attention: "Smart Growth Considerations," from page five.

"Obama will build upon his efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks. As president, Obama will work to provide states and local governments with the resources they need to address sprawl and create more livable communities." –BarackObama.com

"McCain hasn’t released a formal policy identified as targeting urban issues." –WSJ.com

While it’s true that much of "heartland" America still couldn’t care less about bike lanes and sidewalks, as we’ve seen, livable streets issues are pushing further into the mainstream. Whether those issues, and the often starkly differing views held by the candidates, will emerge as part of the national discussion over the next five weeks remains to be seen.

As confirmed in many respects by the Brookings breakdown, one thing is a near certainty: the composition of next year’s federal funding package will vary dramatically based on who takes the White House.

Photo: Chesi – Fotos CC/Flickr

  • Larry Littlefield

    “Obama will build upon his efforts in the Senate to ensure that more Metropolitan Planning Organizations create policies to incentivize greater bicycle and pedestrian usage of roads and sidewalks.”

    That will be the only transportation policy they’ll be able to afford when this is over.

    “As president, Obama will work to provide states and local governments with the resources they need to address sprawl and create more livable communities.”

    He’s already backed down from promises given that the U.S. is bankrupt. I’d put national health care financing at the top. That would keep state and local governments out of bankruptcy, allowing them to make investments THAT ACTUALLY MAKE SENSE on their own.

  • Further having Joe Biden on as the VP says a lot about the future of rail in America. It’s funny though we all know that going in as.. red vs blue essentially comes down to suburbs vs city

  • Shemp

    The broader point of most of what Brookings is putting out these days is that the “heartland” is the country’s metropolitan areas. Top 100 of these contain two-thirds of the American people and generate 75% of the economy.

    “Suburbs vs. city” is not axiomatic – look at political trends (and even transportation conversation) in the suburbs around here.

  • The more density there is in a place, the more democratic it tends to be. Political geography is fascinating stuff.

    To address the topic, and give credit where credit is due, Bill Richardson frequently discussed smart growth and walkable communities during his campaign this year. As a proud Obama supporter, we would all be well-served by having Gov. Richardson land a spot somewhere in an Obama administration.

    Beyond what leaders are in office, each of us needs to build the political will to allow these leaders to institute the changes we need. And that starts with us. This campaign has really gotten the attention of my less political, less civic-minded friends and neighbors. It’s a great way to start a conversation about what this country really needs.

  • Tom

    As President-elect Obama looks to bail out the auto-industry, he also considers a stimulus in infrastructure spending. The Chinese just announced a similar plan. However, Japan did the same thing in the 1990s, but with little success. PBS has an interesting take on it:

    http://www.pbs.org/wnet/blueprintamerica/blog/the-dig-rebuilding-the-economy-with-infrastructure-spending/225/

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