The Department of Transportation’s payments to states for finished stimulus projects reached $30.4 billion as of Aug. 5, while formally obligated totals topped $46 billion for the first time.
The special transportation infrastructure spending accounts, from the 2009 economic stimulus package, are on the downhill slope as more projects are wrapped up. That law gave the DOT $48.1 billion to spend on things from shovel-ready quick repairs to new projects that take years to complete.
President Obama has been pushing hard in recent weeks to build support for a new round of construction project funding through an infrastructure bank, and to pass a transportation bill. He says that will be part of a high-priority agenda to create more jobs once Congress returns from its August recess.
DOT payouts grew by $692 million from July 8 to Aug. 5, according to weekly tallies tracked by the Recovery.gov Web site.
So far in 2011, the DOT has paid out more than $5.6 billion to reimburse states and other agencies for infrastructure work on roads and bridges, ports, freight and passenger rail systems and airports.
While the DOT transmits payments once it is assured work is complete, its formal obligations, made much earlier in the process, allow projects to get under way. The DOT said it has now made nearly $46.2 billion available, up about $360 million from the week ending July 29.
Much of that increase came when the DOT obligated $336 million for California and Illinois to buy locomotives and railcars to use in their intercity passenger rail networks that share tracks with freight railroads. That money was part of the funds that Florida earlier rejected for a high-speed rail line.