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Obama Plans $50 Billion for Transport
Tuesday, 08 December 2009 00:00
President to develop details of jobs program with Congress.

President Obama’s multi-layered jobs plan includes spending around $50 billion in additional funds on transportation infrastructure programs, with the goal of obligating that money to specific projects within the next year.

The President in his speech did not list the dollar amounts or give many program details of his jobcreation proposals. However, a senior administration official told reporters that the White House “is considering a package in the range of $50 billion above and beyond the current levels of infrastructure spending, but that’s something we’ll be working with Congress on.”

Officials also said they are eyeing savings from the financial rescue program, which cost less than anticipated, to fund the infrastructure investments. And the different parts of the jobs program would move on separate tracks, rather than go to Congress as a unified package.

Earlier this year, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act set aside $48 billion for the Department of Transportation to spend. Most of it goes into highway and bridge projects, plus airport repairs and yet-tobe- awarded funds for high-speed passenger rail and grants for projects of special importance. DOT has so far paid out less than $7 billion but has obligated over $31 billion.

Obama said that among his new proposals “we’re proposing a boost in investment in the nation’s infrastructure beyond what was included in the Recovery Act, to continue modernizing our transportation and communications networks. These are needed public works that engage private sector companies, spurring hiring across the country.”

Aides said the project spending would again include highways, transit, rail, aviation and water transport systems. One said it would also set aside “a significant amount” for “merit-based” construction such as intermodal projects that draw in investments from other parties as well.

And while the Recovery Act in February did not target money specifically to go to seaport construction projects other than for security measures, Obama said in the days leading up to his announcement that he was looking at port infrastructure. And administration officials have told reporters that seaports would be included in the package that is being developed.

Journal of Commerce Online, 12/8/2009