DOT Stimulus Payouts Top $13 Billion

DOT Stimulus Payouts Top $13 Billion

The Department of Transportation paid out more than $13 billion to reimburse states for work done under last year’s American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

DOT said its spending under the February 2009 law, which first began disbursing funds in large amounts last summer, reached $13 billion as of May 28.

That is up from $11.9 billion on May 7, according to the Recovery.gov Web site, which is the administration’s principal listing of activity by the various federal agencies. That site had not updated throughout May before catching up with the end-of-month totals.

The DOT spending level is sending payments to states equal to about $250 million per week, or more in some weeks. Recovery.gov listed payouts growing to $12.3 billion on May 14, then $12.6 billion May 21 before jumping by more than $400 million in the final week.

In all, the department has about $48 billion to spend from the economic stimulus law, and has approved projects totaling nearly $38 billion. Most of those are road and bridge projects through the Federal Highway Administration, but other DOT accounts are spending money on rail improvements, airports, intermodal and port facilities. Some are just getting under way; federal officials recently paid out the first $80 million in planning funds under an $8 billion stimulus account for intercity passenger rail improvements.

Other agencies outside departments are also spending money on transportation infrastructure.

The Coast Guard is spreading $142 million in stimulus funds among four railroad bridge renovations to erase some major chokepoints for barge navigation while also increasing rail capacity. The Army Corps of Engineers will spend $4.6 billion, partly to repair or improve 284 navigation locks or commercial ports and on more than 1,100 dam and levee projects.

President Obama last month visited a Youngstown, Ohio, site where he said stimulus money is triggering a $650 million steel plant project.

Last week he toured a Maryland heavy truck dealership,  which he said also benefited from some ARRA spending.

--Contact John Boyd at jboyd@joc.com.