Do Federal Grants Distort a City's Capital Investment Priorities—

by Eugene E. Dallaire, Assoc. Editor; Civil Engineering Magazine, New York, NY 10017,

Serial Information: Civil Engineering—ASCE, 1979, Vol. 49, Issue 10, Pg. 79-81

Document Type: Feature article


The availability of federal grants in some areas and no grants in others sometimes leads to absurd distortions in a city's true capital investment needs. Under construction now for sometime is the North River plant on the West Side of Manhattan. The plant would treat raw sewage currently being discharged into the Hudson River. Though the plant will cost well over a $1 billion by the time it's completed in the late 1980s, studies show it will make little difference in the quality of the receiving waters. Yet there are ample federal funds to build this costly project. On the other hand, New York has a pressing need to finish building a back-up water tunnel; for should one of the city's two existing water tunnels fail, half NYC would be without water. Despite the crucial nature of the water-tunnel project, not one dime of federal money is available to build it. If cities were free to decide their own copital investment priorities—rather than having federal categorical grant programs—they would be considerably different in some cities than at present.

Subject Headings: Federal government | Urban areas | Assets | Investments | Rivers and streams | Water quality | Water tunnels | Tunnels | New York | United States | New York City | Hudson River

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