U.S. DOT budget bringing 'infrastructure of tomorrow' to region - Metropolitan Planning Council

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U.S. DOT budget bringing 'infrastructure of tomorrow' to region

Laurence Pearlman

In keeping with President Obama’s State of the Union pledge “to build the infrastructure of tomorrow,” the U.S. Dept. of Transportation (U.S. DOT) released its budget for FY2011, which includes $2.2 billion for Illinois and $1.2 billion for Indiana for construction and improvements to our roads, highways, and airports.

Despite remaining largely flat from FY2010, the $78.8 billion budget does increase investment in the administration’s three key transportation priorities: improving safety, investing for the future, and promoting livable communities. The budget funds several major initiatives in each of these areas, as well as plans to deliver transportation investments based on performance measurement.

Budget highlights:

  • $4 billion to seed the National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund, which will invest in projects of regional or national significance
  • An additional $1 billion for high-speed rail, on top of the $8 billion in ARRA funds recently awarded to 31 states
  • $530 million to help state and local governments support initiatives that increase transportation choice and integrate housing and land use into transportation decisions, a goal of the President’s Interagency Partnership for Sustainable Communities
  • $30 million to establish a new Federal Transit Safety program, which will institute national safety standards for subways and light rail systems, in the wake of recent deadly accidents in Boston, San Francisco, and Washington D.C.

Despite the Obama administration’s proposed freeze on discretionary spending, U.S. DOT has managed to do more with less by crafting a budget that will advance innovative multi-modal projects. Also, we can look forward to better access to affordable housing, more transportation options, and lower transportation costs thanks to the coordination of the U.S. Dept of Housing and Urban Development, Environmental Protection Agency, and U.S. DOT. Although the current framework for financing and distributing surface transportation investments is not financially sustainable, this budget is commendable for stressing the need to work toward key reforms to achieve smarter investments, and ultimately to identify a more sustainable source of revenue.

What sustainable transportation projects do you think U.S. DOT should fund?

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