The Dept. of Transportation says states will be able to transfer $473.4 million designated years ago for specific projects, but never spent, to other transportation work. Under the plan, which DOT announced on Aug. 17, states have until Oct. 1 to identify projects to which they want their shares of the funds to go. The aid must be obligated by Dec. 31.
But Rep. Jerry Lewis (R-Calif.), a senior Appropriations Committee member, blasted the plan, saying DOT announced it without consulting any members of Congress or state and local officials.
DOT found 671 projects with still-unobligated funds earmarked in appropriations measures from 2003 through 2006. Projects are in every state except Wyoming. Alabama has the largest amount—$51.5 million—to redeploy. California ranks second, with $43.1 million.
The aid can be shifted to highway, transit, passenger-rail or port projects. Brian Deery, senior director of the Associated General Contractors highway and transportation division, expects most of the funds will go to highways. "I would be willing to bet that this money is included in the bid lettings in the spring of 2013," he says.
Lewis says DOT's list includes nine projects in his district. An aide says that if one project, a replacement bridge under way in Highland, Calif., loses its $1-million earmark, it will be difficult to complete construction.