Minnesota is cold. When I visited the state in early February, surprisingly, the subzero temperatures weren’t the only reason for this impression. It was actually the sight of 122 acres of mangled metal above the Mississippi River that chilled me to the bone.
In St. Paul, a former Ford factory, which operated for more than 80 years and employed thousands of workers manufacturing cars, is being demolished. Seeing firsthand the historic Twin Cities Assembly Plant’s demise and the loss of so many quality, unionized American manufacturing jobs made me feel a keen sense of grief.
Ironically, I had come to Minnesota to encourage the creation of U.S. manufacturing jobs, by advocating that the Twin Cities regional planning agency, called the Metropolitan Council, leverage its purchases of buses and trains. I represented the Jobs to Move America coalition, which unites more than 30 community,
Los Angeles was granted its anticipated funding for America Fast Forward, a project aiming to expedite construction of more extensive and functional public transportation systems. The project’s approval is a victory for both the people of Los Angeles and Mayor Villaraigosa, who has been supporting it for years.
America Fast Forward is a provision of a larger transportation bill approved by Congress in late June and signed into law by President Obama last week. The $100 billion package, which received rare bipartisan support, will reduce harmful emissions, fund the construction of mass transit projects in multiple cities and create thousands of jobs throughout the country.
That’s the good news. On the downside, the law — which hardly resembles earlier versions of the legislation — cuts funding for a number of important programs and puts off critical decisions by only providing monies through 2014.
L.A.’s program would initially be funded by the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA),