September 18, 2005

Rhode Island's Initial Pork-Reduction Goal should be at least $50,000,000

Carroll Andrew Morse

Looking over the specific projects listed in the highway bill, Rhode Islandís absolute minimum goal should be to redirect $50,000,000 of earmarked funds towards rebuilding New Orleans. This doesnít mean that the total cannot be more, but $50,000,000 should be the minimum.

There is $49,000,000 available, just in bikepath funding ($38,000,000), plus a few other projects listed below.

I donít want to come across as a Darth Vader conservative, suggesting that funding for anything green be eliminated. Rhode Islandís bikepaths and trails and parks are a tremendous quality of life resource. But they are a civic luxury. At a time when another American city needs help finding the resources for civic necessities, we cannot justify Federal funding for our civic luxuries.

Transportation Improvements for the Washington Secondary Bicycle Facility/Coventry Greenway/Trestle Trail (Coventry) $4,000,000
Transportation Improvements for the Northwest Biketrail/Woonasquatucket River Greenway (Providence, Johnston) $6,000,000
Transportation Improvements for the Blackstone River Bikeway (Providence, Woonsocket) $10,000,000
Transportation Improvements for the Jamestown Bridge Demolition--Bicycle Access/Trestle Span Demolition/Fishing Pier (N. Kingstown) $4,000,000
Acquisition of fee or easement, construction of a trail, and site improvements in Foster $1,000,000
Open space acquisition to mitigate growth associated with SR 4 and Interstate 95, by non-profit land conservation agencies through acquisition of fee or easement, with a match requirement of 50% of the total purchase price $8,000,000
Transportation Enhancements at Blackstone Valley Heritage Corridor $500,000
Restore and Expand Maritime Heritage site in Bristol $500,000
Transportation Improvements for the Colt State Park Bike Path $2,000,000
Construct trails and facility improvements within the Rhode Island National Wildlife Refuge complex $1,000,000
Completion of Washington Secondary Bike Path from Coventry to Connecticut Border $7,000,000
Completion of Greenway from Johnston to Providence $5,000,000
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I'll say it, although it's not politcally correct: RI should not give up its federal money to help New Orleans.

Many of the projects such as the I-195 bridge work and the Sakonnet River Bridge are necessary projects to Rhode Island. Before I'm accused of being selfish, let's take a look at New Orleans.

Yes, New Orleans is in rough shape, but I believe Speaker Hastert was onto something when he asked whether it would be worth completely rebuilding the city. What is new New Orleans going to look like? Many of the people living in New Orleans before Katrina have said they're not going to come back. The city is still sinking every year and is still nearly 20 feet below sea-level. That has not changed.

Should we really try to re-create a southern metropolis at 20 feet below sea-level? Wouldn't it be better off to make New Orleans a mid-sized urban tourist attraction, keeping the French Quarter and rebuilding the operating port? Those were only the really two things that city had going for it before the storm. Do we really want to spend the money to restore a city that had a high crime rate and a high poverty rate?

These are difficult questions and in today's environment can appear as being racially or culturally charged, but they deserve as discussion.

Posted by: Anthony at September 19, 2005 5:09 PM

Rhode Island should give up its pork to help Katrina victims and itself.

End the War On Drugs.

End Republican Socialism: price supports for criminals.

Posted by: M. Simon at September 21, 2005 12:43 PM