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8/17/2012 12:00:00 PM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

White House Offers States $472 Billion for Transportation Projects

The Obama administration has offered states $472 million in federal funding for use toward any transportation construction that had previously been designated for specific projects.

Separately, it issued a second list of major projects to be expedited by having the federal agencies involved speed the permitting and review process.

President Obama said Friday the funding being offered would create construction jobs and make critical infrastructure improvements in almost every state.

“My administration will continue to do everything we can to put Americans back to work,” the president said in a statement. “We’re not going to let politics stand between construction workers and good jobs repairing our roads and bridges.”

The money comes from funds Congress had set aside to pay for “earmarks” from 2003-06. Congress specified at that time future presidents could use the funding if it was not used as planned.

The earmarked funds were never used for a wide variety of reasons, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told reporters. Sometimes states canceled or delayed the projects due to opposition or insufficient funding. Other projects were paid for through other funding mechanisms, he said.

“These idle earmarks have sat on the shelf as our infrastructure continued to age and construction workers stood on the sidelines,” LaHood said. “That ends today. These funds need to be put to use now so we can put people back to work. We can’t wait any longer.”

DOT linked the release of funds to Obama’s election-year push to take action to stimulate the economy without Congress’ participation, which the administration has referred to as its “we can’t wait” initiative.

By Transport Topics

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