DOT Stimulus Spend Tops $17 Billion

DOT Stimulus Spend Tops $17 Billion

The Department of Transportation's payouts of stimulus checks to states for work on roads, bridges and other projects reached $17.134 billion as of Aug. 6, up more than $2 billion since the end of June.

The Obama administration is touting this as its "summer of recovery" to emphasize that many of the transportation and other infrastructure projects are just now hitting their stride. However, federal efforts face widespread perceptions that last year's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act spending has not done enough to spur the economy.

DOT money usually repays states once bills are turned in for projects that are completed, but officials note that its backing stirs jobs in construction, engineering and materials supply as soon as the DOT obligates funds for particular projects.

Those weekly disbursements average $300 million to $400 million, or sometimes more, and have taken DOT payouts from $14.7 billion as of June 30 to more than $16 billion by July 16 and now over the $17 billion level.

In all, the DOT has $48 billion to spend on stimulus projects, most of which are through the Federal Highway Administration for road and bridge repairs. It says more than 12,800 projects got its backing, and more than 8,000 are now under way while 3,300 have already finished their work.

Outside of FWHA, other DOT funds go to airport and transit projects, many of which are still under way. The DOT has also recently begun making the first grants under its $8 billion intercity "high-speed" rail program included in the stimulus, and a multi-modal project fund that totaled $1.5 billion and aimed much of its money to freight rail and port development work.

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