Better Roads Staff
An Earmark Windfall
Leftover earmarks from the old SAFETEA-LU years will be hauled out of their hiding places and put to work, adding almost half a billion dollars to funds ready to flow into transportation projects. This courtesy of a “use it or lose it” ultimatum from the White House.
“We’re not going to let politics stand between construction workers and good jobs repairing our roads and bridges,” said President Barack Obama
Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is making over $470 million in unspent earmarks immediately available to states for projects that will create jobs and help improve transportation across the country. “We are freeing up these funds so states can get down to the business of moving transportation projects forward and putting our friends and neighbors back to work,” said LaHood.
President Obama has vowed to veto any bill that comes to his desk with earmarks and says he would support legislation to permanently ban earmarks. But $473 million in highway earmarks from FY2003-2006 appropriations acts remain unspent years later. Those acts contain provisions that authorize the Secretary to make the unused funds available for eligible surface transportation projects, says the White House, and those provisions have been put to work.
State departments of transportation can use their unspent earmarked highway funds, some of which are nearly 10 years old, on any eligible highway, transit, passenger rail, or port project. States must identify the projects they plan to use the funds for by October 1, and must obligate them by December 31, 2012. Funds not obligated by the December 31 deadline will be proportionally redistributed in FY 2013 to states that met the deadline
“Particularly in these difficult fiscal times, states will be able to put these dollars to good use,” said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez.
A list of available funds by state can be accessed: http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/redisfy0306earmarks.htm
It’s readers helping readers
For all of the problems you run into everyday, there are, somewhere, answers.
Our new website section, Solutions, began as an idea when I was sitting with executive editor Tina Barbaccia and a group of engineers at an American Public Works Association conference. Some of them had problems, and they tossed them on the table, as it were. Every engineer around that table pitched in with advice, ideas, case studies or horror stories. It was by no means the first time we’ve been at such a table. But it the first time it occurred to us to set up Solutions on the Better Roads website so that the self-help process could be interactive online.
Send us a detailed description your problem, with as much support material as we can handle, and we’ll post it in the new Solutions section on BetterRoads.com with a call for help from our expert readers. Also, if you’ve encountered a challenge that you’ve successfully solved, we want to know about that, too. It would be an ideal proactive post.
We know our readers are experienced, savvy and willing and able to help each other. Why not help each other online as you do in person?
We already have a Solutions article in the works from Dragos Andrei, Ph.D., P.E., M.ASCE, an associate professor in the Civil Engineering Department of Cal Poly Pomona, to help those of you having a tough time working to integrate recycling and reclaiming strategies into pavement management systems.
But wait, as they say on TV, there’s more!
If your problem or question appears on the website, or if your solution is posted as you try to help, you will be entered (if eligible) into a drawing for a chance to come to a game with the National Champion Alabama Crimson Tide at Bryant-Denny Stadium (a night’s lodging and game tickets) in Tuscaloosa, Ala.
How did we come up with such a great incentive? Tuscaloosa is Better Roads’ hometown. You will be more than welcome.
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