Free Money! It’s a Nifty Gift from the Federal Government!

Mike Brownfield /

Would you like a $14-billion taxpayer-funded tunnel in your town? How about a $500 million light rail train to nowhere?

As state and local governments are under crushing budget constraints, mega-sized infrastructure boondoggles are cropping up all over the country. With the promise of “free money” from the federal government, these projects are proving too tempting for state governments to turn down.

In the City of Detroit, a $500 million light rail train is being built to connect the downtown area with outlying suburbs. Critics say that the train is inadequate because it’s not part of a regional transportation system and that it will, in effect, be a train to nowhere. Detroit News reporter Charlie LeDuff complains that of all the things Detroit needs — ambulances, for example — is a light rail train really on top of the list? (more…)