The "Muse of Music" fountain in front of the Hollywood Bowl was completedin 1940 and designed by George Stanley, who also created the Oscar statuette. Lori Shepler, Lost Angeles Times
The Causeway of the Triborough Bridge, which spans New York's East River,linked Queens, the Bronx and Manhattan, starting in 1936. National Archives
Franklin D. Roosevelt tours construction of the Grand Coulee Dam, whichopened on June 1, 1942. Seattle Times file
The Grand Coulee Dam, on the Columbia River in Central Washington, is thelargest concrete structure and electric power producing facility in the UnitedStates. It is also part of an irrigation system. U.S. Bureau of Reclamation
President Franklin D. Roosevelt's prescription for the Depression includedthe same general public works spending found in the economic recovery billjust signed by President Barack Obama. And FDR left a legacy of engineeringmarvels that still adorn the landscape - from the San Francisco-Oakland BayBridge and Grand Coulee Dam to La Guardia Airport and New York's TriboroughBridge.
But don't look for similar monuments to emerge from the new stimulus plan,despite its $787 billion price tag. Billions of dollars in infrastructurespending are likely to go for less glamorous projects, such as repavingbattered streets, repairing rundown schools and replacing aging sewer lines.
"The 'shovel ready' requirement in the stimulus bill recently approved byCongress makes it difficult to include 'grand' public works projects," saidBurbank City Manager Michael Flad.
So forget about stimulus money going to build Los Angeles' Subway to theSea, a monumental project aimed at easing the city's legendary trafficproblems, or for a long-sought rail extension to Los Angeles airport.
The tight timeline for the infrastructure spending makes such things allbut impossible. Half of the money for highways and bridges must be obligatedwithin 120 days, the other half within a year.
The intent is to put people to work and pump money into the economyquickly.
"So we concentrated on projects that were ready to go ... projects thatwere just waiting for the money so they could be built," said Jim Berard,spokesman for the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "Most ofthose are not sexy things, but are badly needed nonetheless."
Still, Robert Poole, director of transportation policy at the ReasonFoundation, a Los Angeles-based free market think tank, said, "Obama's earlystatements on the stimulus - comparing its impact to that of Eisenhower'sinterstate highway program - created a false expectation that it would becomparable to the New Deal in building great new public works. The sad realityis that the bill Congress wrote and Obama signed is mostly make-work stuff."
New Deal projects included some of the same kind of work that is expectedto be funded by the stimulus. But it also included projects that stand outtoday, from works of art such as the monuments to astronomers in front of LosAngeles' Griffith Observatory and an Art Deco-inspired fountain in front ofthe Hollywood Bowl to public works such as the Outer Drive Bridge thatprovides a key link in Chicago's lakefront road system.
In contrast to such broad thinking, Orange County Transportation Authoritywill likely use $65 million to add a lane about 7 miles long to the 91Freeway.
"It may not be the Hoover Dam," said Orange County's Joel Zlotnik, "but forthe thousands of people stuck in that freeway gridlock every day, I thinkthey'll appreciate it just as much."
Many of the projects may not be glamorous, but they'll put people to work,the bill's supporters say.
"Resurfacing, painting, lighting and maintenance programs are not as flashyas building a new bridge but as projects they are no less important," saidJeff Solsby of the American Road and Transportation Builders Assn. "Theyprovide important benefits and create jobs to grow the economy."
After the Northern California city of Hercules drew criticism for listing aduck pond park and dog park as possible uses of stimulus money, the citydeclared in a statement: "Any job that puts someone to work is vital to boththat individual, our community's, and our nation's, overall economicwell-being."
Some big projects, nonetheless, may move forward under the stimulus bill.New York and New Jersey hope to receive $1.5 billion toward a new rail tunnelunder the Hudson River.
Gray Brechin, a visiting scholar at UC Berkeley's geography department andproject scholar of California's Living New Deal Project that is catalogingFDR's public works legacy, suggested that it may not be so bad that a largechunk of the spending is going to maintain existing infrastructure.
Noting that the American Society of Civil Engineers has given the conditionof U.S. infrastructure a grade of D, he said, "We now have an enormous holeout of which to climb. It's a good thing that the New Deal workers built aswell as they did since they never could have imagined that we would stopmaintaining what they left us."Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times