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Citizens Against Government Waste reports that the U.S. Senate’s version of the 2011 Department of Transportation, Housing, and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Act includes 590 projects ($2.2 billion) with an increase of 29.4% in costs over Fiscal Year 2010’s 588 projects.
“The significant increase in the number of projects is indicative of senators’ continued commitment to earmarking large swaths of transportation funds for pet projects and occurs even as President Obama is proposing yet another “stimulus” package to jumpstart the stagnant economy by funding roads and bridges. Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Daniel Inouye (D-Hawaii), Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), and Senate THUD Appropriations Subcommittee Chairwoman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) combined for 122 projects worth $344.4 million, or 15.7 percent of the total. The following are examples of pork in the bill:
* $387,863,262 or 17.6 percent of the total pork, by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) for two rail projects: $202,315,000 for Long Island Rail Road east side access, and $185,548,262 for Phase I of the Second Avenue subway.
* $182,100,000 by Senate THUD Appropriations Subcommittee member Robert Bennett (R-Utah) for three rail projects: $100,000,000 requested in conjunction with Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) for the Mid-Jordan Light Rail Transportation project, $80,000,000 for the Weber County to Salt Lake City Commuter Rail, and $2,100,000 for Draper Light Rail.
* $22,507,000 by 29 senators for bicycle paths, trails, walkways, and greenways, including $2,500,000 by Senate THUD Appropriations Subcommittee member Richard Durbin (D-Ill.) for Illinois pedestrian and bicycling road and trail improvements and enhancements and $1,000,000 by Sens. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) to improve the Dequindre Cut Greenway in Detroit. Plagued with economic problems, the city has more important priorities than a glorified bike trail and graffiti art gallery.
* $1,800,000 by Senate appropriator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) for the Denali Commission. Since 2006, this program has received $25,513,250.
* $900,000 by Senate Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) to construct a beach park promenade in Pascagoula.
* $700,000 by Senate THUD Appropriations Subcommittee member Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) for two downtown streetscape projects in Custer and Yankton.”