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President Obama proposes $556 billion, six-year federal transportation program

President Obama released a budget for the 2012 fiscal year this morning that includes a significant investment in our nation’s infrastructure and a long-overdue emphasis on options and accountability.

The $556 billion, six-year proposal for transportation reauthorization included in the budget is an ambitious standout in a largely sober blueprint. However, persistent unemployment — particularly in the construction industry — makes the case for forgoing infrastructure cuts in favor of investment. When more Americans are working, paying taxes and putting their dollars back into their communities, the deficit goes down too.

Yonah Freemark from the Transport Politic pointed out that the President’s budget continues the expansion of transportation options.

Though the Administration would increase funding for roads construction from $41 billion in the previous budget to $70 billion, that increase is dwarfed in percentage by proposed spending on transit, which would more than double from $8 billion annually currently to $22 billion. Over six years, spending on capital improvements for public transportation would add up to $119 billion.

Tanya Snyder at Streetsblog Capitol Hill also offered some initial reactions.

As promised, the budget also includes the $53 billion for high-speed rail over six years previewed by Vice President Biden in a speech last week.

True to the overall theme of cuts coupled with smarter investment, the plan consolidates 55 programs into just five and invests $30 billion in a National Infrastructure Bank to provide loans and grants to projects of regional and national significance that promote economic growth. The plan contains no earmarks and cancels a number of them still on the books.

The administration is also highlighting a new $32 billion competitive grant program modeled after the successful Race to the Top program in the U.S. Department of Education. This new approach would create incentives for states and regions to pursue their own innovations that reduce congestion, improve quality of life, make it easier for residents to get to work and recreation and enhance economic prosperity. Details about that program should be forthcoming at the U.S. DOT briefing about the budget this afternoon.

In addition, a “Fix-it-first” policy for highways and transit grants would make repair and maintenance of existing infrastructure a higher priority, a reform that would save lives and save money.

The plan does not specify a revenue source for the increases but “commits to work with Congress to ensure that the funding increases for surface transportation do not increase the deficit.”

The U.S. Department of Transportation is hosting a briefing at 2pm at which point many of these details will be further illuminated. T4 America will be releasing a formal statement early this afternoon.

Photo: AFP/Getty Images


  1. Pingback: Transportation Budget Responses: from Transportation for America | Transportation Nation

  2. Serge R

    13 years ago

    A good start…but is it enough? What about funding for light rail and Bus Rapid Transit in the cities? Those are much cheaper to implement than the high speed rail projects, and potentially of greater benefit.

  3. Rob Daniels

    13 years ago

    I’d sure love to know what the consolidation of 55 programs means!? Very, very vague and leaves thousands of people with jobs in those program areas in the total dark. Good job once again Mr. President…..