Administration Shifts DOT Priorities

Administration Shifts DOT Priorities

President Obama’s 2011 budget for the Department of Transportation shows an overall 2.3 percent increase compared with 2010 as the administration emphasizes infrastructure projects but hopes to curb unnecessary spending.

The new bright spot in the DOT’s budget is $4 billion in seed money for a new National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund.

Existing agencies fared better and worse than the norm, reflecting other administration priorities.

The Federal Aviation Administration shows a 4 percent increase, $12,953 billion, up from 12,477 in 2010. The administration is asking Congress for a $1.14 billion increase in funding for the Next Generation air traffic control system.

The Federal Highway Administration, one of DOT’s biggest divisions, has a budget growth of only 0.6 percent, $41,636 billion, up from $41,107 billion.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration would increase its budget 6 percent, $174 billion, up from $164 billion.

The Federal Railroad Administration’s 2011 budget shows a huge drop on paper, $4.64 billion to $2.8 billion, but in 2010 $2.5 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money passed through the agency. In 2009 the agency received another $8 billion for high speed rail grants. The 2011 budget shows an additional $1 billion for high speed rail.

The Maritime Administration shows a 3 percent loss for 2011, $352 million down from $363 million. The budget provides an additional $14 million for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, but a $5 million reduction in money for ship disposal. The budget provides $3.6 million to administer the Title XI loan guarantee program, but no funds for loans themselves.

Contact R.G. Edmonson at bedmonson@joc.com.