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The Right (And Wrong) Way to Spend $1 Trillion

The Lunacy of Highway Spending and the Forgotten Promise of Freight Rail

On January 30, 2009, the New America Foundation hosted a panel discussion around the release of a Washington Monthly cover story and new proposal in the "Big Ideas" series. WAMonthlyCover1_09.jpgFeatured speaker Phillip Longman, Senior Fellow at New America and Research Director of the Next Social Contract Initiative, pitched his plan to dramatically increase investment in freight rail infrastructure as part of the upcoming economic stimulus, and reduce by 85 percent the number of long-haul trucks on America's Interstate highways.  Longman outlined the environmental, health, safety, and quality of life benefits of this "Swiss Army Knife" of public policy ideas, and assessed the proposal's political feasibility.

A panel of discussants responded to Longman's presentation and offered their perspectives on his proposal.  Alan Drake and Andrea Bassi of the Millennium Institute, an Arlington-based strategic planning firm, estimated the costs, GDP gains, and carbon emissions reductions of various levels of investment, and analyzed potential feedback loops and long-term implications of railway development.  Anne Canby, President of the Surface Transportation Policy Partnership and former Transportation Secretary of Delaware, described the emerging coalition to advance rail on a broader platform.  Finally, John Gray, Senior Vice President of Policy and Economics at the Association of American Railroads, presented the rail industry's perspective on public-private partnerships.  Paul Glastris, New America Fellow and Editor-in-Chief of The Washington Monthly, provided introductions and moderated the question-and-answer session that followed.

-- Event summary by Daniel Mandel, Program Associate, Next Social Contract Initiative, New America Foundation 



New America Foundation
1630 Connecticut Avenue 7th Floor
Washington, DC, 20009
See map: Google Maps


Phillip Longman
Senior Fellow, New America Foundation
Author, “Back on Tracks,”
Cover story, The Washington Monthly, Jan/Feb 2009

Alan Drake and Andrea Bassi
Authors, “Evaluating the Creation of a Parallel Non-Oil Transportation System
in an Oil Constrained Future

Millennium Institute

Anne P.Canby
President, Surface Transportation Policy Partnership
Transportation Secretary, Delaware 1993-2001

John Gray
Senior Vice President, Policy and Economics
Association of American Railroads 

Paul Glastris
The Washington Monthly 

Event Time and Location

Friday, January 30, 2009 - 12:15pm - 1:45pm

Event Photos

A range of photos from this event are available on Flickr. Click on the icon at left to view or download the photos.