More than 10 weeks into fiscal 2010, funding numbers for the year finally have fallen into place for several key federal construction programs. A Senate vote on Dec. 13 gave final congressional approval to a huge, $446.8-billion spending package that includes six individual appropriations bills for 2010, including transportation and military construction. Results for construction accounts were mixed. Highways, transit, General Services Administration new construction and Dept. of Veterans Affairs programs all won increases, but there were deep cuts in prisons and GSA renovations.

Federal-aid highways received a 2.5% boost, thanks to a small hike in the trust-fund-financed obligation limit and $650 million from the general fund. “In aggregate, it’s a billion-dollar ‘plus-up,’ ” says David Bauer, American Road & Transportation Builders Association senior vice president. “It’s an increase well above what inflation would dictate.”

Another highlight is $2.5 billion for high-speed rail, supplementing the $8 billion for rail in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The bill says at least 85% of the $2.5 billion should go for “entire segments or phases” of rail corridors. American Public Transportation Association President William Millar notes that appropriators also urged the Dept. of Transportation to focus its high-speed-rail funds on 11 already designated corridors. In another ARRA add-on, the package has $600 million for DOT discretionary grants for major national or regional projects. ARRA had $1.5 billion for such projects. DOT is to pick the first winners early in 2010.

In GSA’s $894-million construction allotment, the largest items are $211 million for a new Salt Lake City courthouse and $190.7 million for a Federal Bureau of Investigation Miami field office. Senate appropriators recommended $700 million for Dept. of Education school construction grants, but that provision wasn’t included in the final package.

FISCAL 2010 SPENDING packagE HIGHLIGHTS (in $ millions)
Programs FY09* FY10 % change
Federal-aid highways** 40,700 41,757 +3
Federal Transit Administration 10,131 10,733 +6
High-speed rail 0 2,500 NM
FAA airport grants 3,515 3,515 0
DOD family housing 1,417 489 -65
DOD base realignment and closure 9,224 7,952 -14
DOD other military construction 12,262 13,619 +11
GSA construction 746 894 +20
GSA repairs and alterations 692 414 -40
State Dept. embassies 801 877 +9
Bureau of Prisons buildings and facilities 576 99 -83
VA major construction 923 1,194 +29
*Funding excludes emergency and supplemental appropriations. NM: not measurable. Note: High-speed rail received $8 billion in FY09 emergency appropriations
**2010 total includes $650 million from the general fund.