States received another $208 million in stimulus from the Department of Transportation in the week ending Aug. 12., as disbursements continue strongly despite the winding down of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
The department has released more than $2 billion this summer to pay states back for completed stimulus projects, according to figures tracked by the administration’s Recovery.gov Web site, pushing the DOT’s total payouts above $30.6 billion. Since 2011 began, DOT stimulus payouts have topped $5.8 billion.
In all, the ARRA legislation gave the DOT $48.1 billion to spend. The department has formally obligated $46.2 billion of that, and has awarded remaining funds that states can spend once they reach formal agreements on some planned projects.
State transportation officials fear that if Congress does not soon add more infrastructure funding to bolster that which states receive as shares of Highway Trust Fund tax collections, money available for transportation construction will soon plunge as the remaining stimulus fades. President Obama is urging Congress to set up an infrastructure bank soon after it returns from an August recess.
Most of the DOT’s money is spent through the Federal Highway Administration for highway and bridge projects. The FHWA said its funds backed 13,300 separate repair or construction projects, of which 8,900 have been completed and 4,100 are currently under way.
Other DOT-backed stimulus work includes the accelerated buildout of Amtrak’s intercity passenger rail network, which includes paying for major track and signal upgrades of rail lines owned by large freight railroads. Although Amtrak service benefits by bringing new passenger service or allowing those trains to run faster, the money also makes the freight corridor more efficient with extra tracks or passing lanes and signal improvements.
Other stimulus work overseen by the DOT includes port and seaport projects, marine highways for coastal container moves and upgrades to airport runways.