With the congressional August recess around the corner, House and Senate lawmakers were moving along separate tracks with competing plans to avert an imminent crisis in the Highway Trust Fund. The House was aiming for a $5-billion “fix,” designed to prop up the fund’s struggling highway account until Sept. 30. The Senate was working on a $26.8-billion infusion designed to keep the fund healthy through March 2011. Observers expected a deal to be struck before the recess, but at ENR press time the exact outcome was by no means clear. The differences between the House and Senate trust-fund remedies are
Federal highway, transit and airport grant programs notched small gains and high-speed rail won a surprisingly large $4 billion in a fiscal 2010 transportation and housing spending bill that the House passed on July 23. The $123.1-billion measure includes $75.8 billion for the Dept. of Transportation, a 13% gain over DOT’s 2009 funding. The bill also has $47 billion for the Housing and Urban Development Dept. The Senate Appropriations Committee is slated to take up its version of the DOT-HUD bill on July 30. The House bill would set the 2010 highway obligation ceiling at $41.1 billion, up 1% from
After defeating GOP budget-cutting proposals, the House has approved a fiscal 2010 transportation and housing spending measure that includes $75.8 billion for the Dept. of Transportation, a 13% gain over 2009. The measure, approved on July 23, by a 256-168 vote, would provide modest increases for highway, transit and airport grant programs, plus $4 billion for high-speed rail. Only 16 Republicans voted for the bill, and only 10 Democrats voted against it. For the largest DOT construction program, federal-aid highways, the bill contains a $41.8-billion obligation ceiling, up 1% from 2009. But appropriators noted the unresolved problems facing the Highway
House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar (D-Minn.) has recommended a $3-billion infusion for the struggling Highway Trust Fund, a sum that Oberstar says will be enough to carry the trust fund through Sept. 30. Oberstar, who made his proposal July 23 during a House Ways and Means subcommittee hearing, said that the boost for the trust fund should come through a transfer from the general fund. The trust fund's highway account is projected to start running a shortfall in August. Oberstar's proposal for fixing that immediate problem is at odds with the plan now shaping up in the
As a Highway Trust Fund shortfall looms within weeks, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has proposed a remedy. Baucus introduced a bill on July 20 to inject $26.8 billion of new revenue into the trust fund. Of that total, $22 billion would go to the fund’s highway account and $4.8 billion to its transit account. Dept. of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said the highway account needs a $20-billion infusion over the next 18 months, or DOT would have to slow reimbursements to states for highway-construction spending commitments they incur. LaHood has said the gap will start to
North Carolina Dept. of Transportation officials hope to resume erection work on the $36.6-million Oak Island Bridge project before the end of July, once concerns about cracks found in five concrete girders are alleviated. Work on the bridge halted in early July for the second time in eight months while prime contractor Barnhill Contracting Co., Tarboro, N.C., validates the quality of the suspect girders, four of which were placed. Photo: NCDOT Bulb-tee girders are concern. The bridge is part of a new 4.5-mile-long link connecting Oak Island to the mainland, south of Wilmington in Brunswick County. It consists of 160-ft-long
The Michigan Dept. of Transportation hopes to expedite rebuilding of a new overpass over Interstate 75 north of Detroit, to replace a five-lane steel-girder structure that collapsed on July 15 from a fire caused by a tanker truck that crashed into it. Posen Construction Inc., Detroit, removed debris in a $78,000 contract, says MDOT spokesman Robert Morosi. Locally based Cadillac Asphalt LLC removed the top 3 in. of asphalt on I-75 and put in 450 tons of new pavement under a $90,000 contract. The highway was reopened on July 20. MDOT will seek bids for a new overpass in September.
High-speed rail is red-hot. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation has been flooded with proposals seeking a piece of the $8 billion it received for high-speed rail grants in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. However, the potential plans far outstrip DOT’s ARRA rail bank account. DOT’s Federal Rail-road Administration reported on July 16 it had received 278 rail-grant “pre-applications” totaling $102.5 billion. Some applicants may not win grants, but more money may be on the way. A House committee has recommended an additional $4 billion for high-speed rail in regular 2010 appropriations. Photo: California high speed rail authority California’s $40-billion
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) has introduced a bill that would repair the looming revenue hole in the Highway Trust Fund. Baucus's bill, introduced July 20, would provide a total of $26.8 billion in new revenue for the trust fund, with $22 billion designed for the fund's highway account and $4.8 billion for its transit account. Photo: Senate Finance Committee Finance Committee Chairman Baucus (L) hopes to avert shortfall in trust fund. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has said that the highway account will require a $20- billion infusion over the next 18 months, or DOT would have to
Demand for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grants for high-speed rail far outstrips the $8 billion available. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration reported on July 16 that it had received 278 "pre-applications" for the rail grants, with applicants requesting a total of $102 billion. The department expects to award the first batch of economic-stimulus rail grants in the fall. In another sign of the red-hot interest in the fast trains, the House Appropriations Committee on July 17 included $4 billion for high-speed rail in its fiscal 2010 transportation spending bill. That quadruples the amount President Obama requested.