Polly Trottenberg tapped for senior USDOT spot
Trottenberg's ascension signals that the Obama administration will make transit a serious priority and encourage a more equitable consideration of urban priorities during debate on the upcoming federal transportation bill. Her dozen years of Senate experience, including stints in the offices of Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), also will prove a valuable asset to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, himself a veteran of the House.
But it's Trottenberg's independent analysis of the recent economic stimulus bill that stands out. She joined New York City DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan and former New York State DOT Commissioner Astrid Glynn for a series of progressive recommendations for the stimulus plan
And in a panel discussion at NewTalk, Trottenberg acknowledged that the stimulus bill's speedy delivery of cash to state DOTs was at odds with the Obama administration's goal of promoting "green energy":
It appears that we have made some progress in advancing a more transparent and accountable infrastructure policy in the economic stimulus bill, but it's likely that we will not do much to achieve what should be our ultimate goal
— resolving the more fundamental question of what we are trying to accomplish with our federal investments and targeting the funds accordingly.
For example, President-elect Obama has called for a "green energy" approach to economic recovery, which will focus on projects that reduce energy consumption. However, if you survey the potential list of transportation projects proposed by a number of State Departments of Transportation, it appears likely this legislation will fund billions of dollars in new highway capacity in suburban and exurban areas. These projects will exacerbate auto-dependent development and increase fossil fuel consumption.
It's too soon to say whether Trottenberg can combat the desire for political expediency that led to some bad transportation decision-making in the name of economic stimulus. Yet her arrival in the Obama administration is certainly good news.
Cross-posted from Streetsblog.
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