After much anticipation of finding out what the stimulus package may include, an official draft has been published at the House of Representatives Committee on Appropriations [PDF]. This version estimates $275 billion in economic recovery tax cuts and $550 billion in priority investments. A much easier to read press summary is posted here [PDF]). Here are the highlights of transportation funding:
Modernize Roads, Bridges, Transit and Waterways|
To build a 21st century economy, we must engage contractors across the nation to create jobs - rebuilding our crumbling roads and bridges, modernizing public buildings, and putting people to work cleaning our air, water, and land.
Highway Infrastructure: $30 billion for highway and bridge construction projects. It is estimated that states have over 5,100 projects totaling over $64 billion that could be awarded within 180 days. These projects create jobs in the short term while saving commuters time and money in the long term. In 2006, the Department of Transportation estimated $8.5 billion was needed to maintain current systems and $61.4 billion was needed to improve highways and bridges.
Transit: Public transportation saves Americans time and money, saving as much as 4.2 billion gallons of gasoline and reducing carbon emissions by 37 million metric tons each year. [Earlier the article cites, "$10 billion for transit and rail to reduce traffic congestion and gas consumption."]
New Construction: $1 billion for Capital Investment Grants for new commuter rail or other light rail systems to increase public use of mass transit and to speed projects already in construction. The Federal Transit Administration has $2.4 billion in pre-approved projects.
Upgrades and Repair: $2 billion to modernize existing transit systems, including renovations to stations, security systems, computers, equipment, structures, signals, and communications. Funds will be distributed through the existing formula. The repair backlog is nearly $50 billion.
Transit Capital Assistance: $6 billion to purchase buses and equipment needed to increase public transportation and improve intermodal and transit facilities. The Department of Transportation estimates a $3.2 billion maintenance backlog and $9.2 billion in needed improvements. The American Public Transportation Association identified 787 ready-to-go transit projects totaling $15.5 billion. Funds will be distributed through the existing formulas.
Amtrak and Intercity Passenger Rail Construction Grants: $1.1 billion to improve the speed and capacity of intercity passenger rail service. The Department of Transportation's Inspector General estimates the North East Corridor alone has a backlog of over $10 billion.
The tax cuts will hopefully allow Americans to spend their share on useful goods and services, and what better to put that towards than biking! The funding for other transportation projects looks bleak though - mainly calling for more highways, which is exactly the opposite of what we need. America is slowly growing in transportation options, and many people are living with less cars or at least hoping to. How about some funding for cycling projects that cities desperately need?