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ARRA: $27 Billion for Roads, Bridges, Mass Transit Projects

By Ron Thaniel
March 9, 2009


Has Your State Put City Transportation Projects on Its State Funding List? Information Needed Now

The first 50 percent (approximately $9 billion) of the ARRA highway infrastructure funding is now being distributed directly to states. As was mentioned in our meeting with the White House, mayors often don’t have access to the lists of “ready to go” projects prepared by state departments of transportation. And we are learning that in many states, important city projects are not being included on the state funding lists.

We need to know if you have access to your list of state projects. And, we also need to know the number of city projects included on your state list.

E-mail your response to Olive Chin at ochin@usmayors.org along with your name, city, and state. We need your response by COB Friday, March 20.

Contact USCM Assistant Executive Director Ron Thaniel at 202-861-6711 or rthaniel@usmayors.org for further discussion.

President Barack Obama, joined by Vice President Joe Biden and U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, announced March 3 the release of $26.6 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to states and local communities to repair and build highways, roads, bridges and public transportation systems.

The release of the funds “will create or save 150,000 jobs by the end of next year, most of them in the private sector,” President Obama said. “The jobs that we’re creating are good jobs that pay more than average; jobs grinding asphalt and paving roads, filling potholes, making street signs, repairing stop lights, replacing guard rails,” he added.

Of the $26.6 billion under the highway program, 30 percent is suballocated to local areas through the Surface Transportation Program (STP). This means that local areas will receive $7.9 billion. This is a major victory in that the stimulus bill passed by the House in 2008 provided that all the funding would go to the states, and contained no funding local areas.

States will have 120 days to obligate the first 50 percent of these funds and up to one year to obligate the balance of the funds. Local communities through their metropolitan planning organization (MPO) will have up to one year to obligate funds.

In order for a road, bridge, or transit project to advance for federal funding, it must be included in the relevant metropolitan Transportation Improvement Program (TIP) or Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP).

Projects that are not in a TIP can be included through an amendment process. Mayors should contact their local MPO for information on the amendment process.

Spatial/Place-Based Spending Requirements

Seventy percent of the road, bridge, and transit funding are provided to states with no spatial or place-based distribution requirements.

Consequently, The U.S. Conference of Mayors is urging the Administration to emphasize the broad flexibility of these funds to support a range of transportation solutions, and also emphasize the need for state transportation officials to ensure balanced transportation investment patterns within states. To support this, USCM is urging the Administration to track these funds through Recovery.gov using place-based features (i.e., amount of funds and number of projects delivered to specific local areas and regions) so that the public can fully understand the investment in their local areas, using population, number of unemployed persons, and/or other relevant economic indicators.

Project Eligibility

Funds may be used for passenger and freight rail, port infrastructure projects, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, resurfacing, restoration, and operational improvements for highways (including Interstate highways) and bridges (including bridges on public roads of all functional classifications), transit projects including vehicles and facilities.

Other eligible projects include carpool projects, bicycle transportation, and pedestrian walkways, infrastructure-based intelligent transportation systems capital improvements, and environmental restoration and pollution abatement projects to address water pollution or environmental degradation caused by transportation facilities.

To view the full range of projects eligible for funding under highway infrastructure, visit the website www.usmayors.org/recovery/.