Under Obama proposal, $128 billion would fund transportation

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The heart of the president's proposal to spend $128 billion on transportation in fiscal 2012 is a push for a six-year renewal of the nation's transportation blueprint.

The request is a 53 percent increase over the $76.5 billion expected to be spent in fiscal 2010. Transportation traditionally has been funded with multi-year programs that allow planners to tackle projects with confidence that the money is guaranteed. The last authorization - a five-year, $285 billion package - expired in September 2009, and approval of a reauthorization proposal has been stalled in Congress.

On Monday, the president proposed that $128 billion be the first expenditure in a new six-year, $556 billion plan.

The administration wants to invest $8 billion in the coming year, and $53 billion over the following six, to develop high-speed and intercity rail service. The long-term plan would provide $30 billion for a National Infrastructure Bank, a creation intended to move decisions about transportation projects outside the sphere of political influence.

Amtrak is a potential loser in the budget, which would eliminate direct operating subsidies to the rail line.

- Ashley Halsey III

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