The dimensions of federal spending to rebuild hurricane-damaged Gulf Coast infrastructure are becoming clearer. President Bush on Oct. 28 asked Congress to transfer $17.1 billion from approved but unspent Federal Emergency Management Agency relief aid to highways, levees and other infrastructure pummeled by recent storms.
Industry officials think appropriators will approve the plan, though maybe with changes. "Obviously the needs are there," says Cathy Connor, Parsons Brinckerhoff senior vice president for government affairs. Because the White House is proposing to reprogram existing spending, "it seems like it would be a pretty popular move," she adds.
White Houses $17.1-Billion
|Agency :|| |
Funding ($ Mil.)
|Federal Highway Administration|| |
|HUD Community Devel. Block Grants|| |
|Dept. of Defense*|| |
|Corps of Engineers|| |
|Dept. of Veterans Affairs|| |
|Fish and Wildlife Service|| |
|General Services Administration|| |
|National Park Service|| |
*Includes military construction and DOD family housing construction and operations and maintenance accounts. White House also seeking $2.1 billion for other DOD O&M accounts, but not all of that would go for construction.
Source: Office of Management and Budget
The White House is "navigating a tricky course" between those desiring higher funding and those seeking budget cuts, says Steve Hall, vice president, government affairs, at the American Council of Engineering Companies. "This may be a reasonable compromise," he says.
The Defense Dept. would get the largest share, $4.6 billion, including at least $1.5 billion for construction and repairs. Much of that is for rebuilding Mississippis Keeler Air Force Base and the Naval Air Station in New Orleans.
The Federal Highway Administration would receive $2.3 billion for its emergency relief account. A Dept. of Transportation spokesman says the request does not specify amounts for each state. But Louisiana is seeking $1.1 billion in FHWA aid, including $600 million for the I-10 "twin spans," says Transportation and Development Secretary Johnny B. Bradberry. The Mississippi Transportation Commission pegs Hurricane Katrina damage to federal-aid roads at $695 million, says Wayne Brown southern district commissioner.
The proposal has $1.6 billion for the Corps of Engineers, including about $1.3 billion to reconstruct levees, clear waterways and speed a levee-upgrade study. The Dept. of Veterans Affairs would get $1.1 billion to rebuild New Orleans and Biloxi hospitals.
Bush also wants to rescind $2.3 billion "from lower-priority federal programs and excess funds." The Associated General Contractors is concerned about a proposed $166-million cut in Clean Water State Revolving Funds, says Karen Bachman, a government affairs director.
Corps: National Academies To Study Levee Failures
Water: New Proposal For Sewage Flows
NACWA says that in big storms, influent flows can exceed secondary treatment units capacity. Influent can be diverted and recombined with flows from treatment units or discharged directly into waterways. The joint plan says diversions may be allowed if a plant proves it has "no feasible alter-natives," such as storage or other treatment technologies. EPA proposed its own diversion policy in 2003, but withdrew it last May.
Labor: Davis-Bacon To Be Reinstated for Post-Katrina work