The Department of Transportation’s payments to states for infrastructure work funded by the 2009 stimulus law reached $29.6 billion by the end of June, with thousands more road and rail construction projects still under way.
The latest total means the DOT paid out about $800 million during June and has sent states $4.8 billion in stimulus reimbursements so far in 2011, according to the newest figures from Obama administration website recovery.gov. It makes those payments once states certify the projects are completed, but DOT backing earlier in the process allows the work to get under way.
In all, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act gave the DOT $48 billion to spend on transportation projects, mostly for road and bridge construction but including airport, transit and passenger rail funds, plus discretionary grants under which the department aided some freight rail and port projects.
All its money has been awarded to projects although some of those still need implementing agreements before they can begin construction.
With more than half of the DOT’s stimulus money already spent, that funding stream is winding down and states could soon be left with sharply lower federal contributions for transport infrastructure. States would be left with allocations out of the Highway Trust Fund and some new DOT discretionary grants.
President Barack Obama wants Congress to quickly agree on a deficit reduction plan, and then approve additional infrastructure funding to create more jobs soon and to support future economic growth.
One example of the DOT’s stimulus work came on July 11, when Federal Highway Deputy Administrator Greg Nadeau joined West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in Morgantown to open the final piece of the Mon/Fayette Expressway there.
The project, which got $13.4 million in ARRA funds, improves speeds and safety for traffic on Interstate 68 between that city and the Pennsylvania state line on the way to Pittsburgh, especially for commercial trucks that had been forced to use smaller roads in the area.
The Federal Highway Administration is handling $27 billion in ARRA funds, spread among 13,300 separate construction projects. The agency said 4,300 are now under construction, while more than 8,600 projects have already been completed, leaving only a few hundred yet to begin.