WSJ op-ed: Transportation projects are a 'defining characteristic of declining cities'

The administration has offered federal grants to cities for high-speed rail projects, but several Republican governors, most notably Rick Scott of Florida, have rejected the funds.

The White House's focus on transportation projects is a holdover from another era, Glasser argues.

"The White House's fondness for transportation spending may reflect the fact that projects like the Erie Canal had great value when moving goods was near impossible," he wrote. "In 1816, it cost as much to move goods 30 miles over land as it did to ship them across the Atlantic."

Now, however, Glasser said, the projects' costs outweigh their benefits.

"Neither Detroit nor the U.S. suffer from any profound transportation problem that can only be fixed with vast federal spending. The country doesn't need more People Movers," he wrote.

"It needs unleashed, educated entrepreneurs — and they will only be held back by taxes being funneled into fanciful make-work projects in a futile attempt to fix our economic malaise."

Glasser notes that Detroit's population declined 25 percent in the last decade, according to recently released census figures.