Transportation budget could get a big boost in 2012

Agency asks for a significant increase amid budget austerity

The Obama administration is requesting $129 billion for the Transportation Department in fiscal 2012, a 66 percent increase over fiscal 2010, the last enacted appropriated level. The request includes an increase for the Federal Aviation Administration's struggling NextGen air traffic management system.

The budget request, which comes as part of a budget generally emphasizing austerity, underscores the importance of a well-functioning transportation system to the nation’s prosperity and safety, DOT officials said. While much of the funding is designated for repairs and improvements roads, it also includes $8.3 billion requested for the Federal Railroad Administration, which includes funds for the development of high-speed passenger rail.

Prior to the release of the fiscal 2012 budget, LaHood assured representatives of the airline industry that the administration would still spend money on the FAA's  satellite-based NextGen system. The administration requested that the FAA receive $18.7 billion to maintain the country’s Air Traffic Control System. The NextGen initiative would receive $1.2 billion of that request, an increase of $70 million from fiscal 2010.

The president called on the nation to repair existing roads, bridges and transit systems and to build new projects of national significance during the State of the Union Address last month.

“The President’s 2012 budget -- and his six-year plan for the future of American transportation -- will accomplish precisely this,” Ray LaHood, U.S. Secretary of Transportation, wrote today in his Fast Lane blog.

The request includes a $556 billion, six-year surface transportation reauthorization proposal to improve the nation’s highways, transit and rail infrastructure and to make sure the systems are safe.

To jump-start the effort, the president’s request includes a $50 billion up-front economic boost to foster job creation. “It also includes a $30 billion national infrastructure bank that will finance major projects of national or regional significance over the long run,” LaHood wrote. The I-Bank would receive $30 billion over 6 years.

The request assumes no pay raises.


Related coverage:

Obama wants money to help agency contracting shops


The administration requested $70.5 billion for the Federal Highway Administration to rebuild roads and bridges and proposed $22.4 billion for the Federal Transit Administration to improve public transit.

“Where it doesn’t compromise safety or jobs, the proposal recommends tightening our fiscal belt,” LaHood said.

The budget cuts red tape throughout DOT and consolidates more than 50 different DOT programs, LaHood said.

The DOT Surface Transportation Reauthorization proposal will consolidate more than 55 separate highway programs into five core programs, a move designed to make it easier for states and communities to build projects that they identify as priorities.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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