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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Obama targets $473 million in unspent 'earmarks' at transportation projects


On Friday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the Obama administration is making available $473 million in unspent highway funds for eligible highway, transit, passenger-rail or port projects.

The funds were earmarks in appropriations acts from fiscal-years 2003-2006 that have remained unspent.

“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 in a prepared statement.

Although President Obama has said he would veto legislation that contained earmarks, the unspent highway funds were included in appropriation acts that contained provisions that authorize the secretary to make them available for eligible surface transportation projects, he said.

States must identify the projects they plan to use the funds for by Oct. 1, and then must obligate them by Dec. 31. Funds not obligated by year’s end will be proportionally redistributed in FY2013 to states that met the deadline, U.S. Department of Transportation officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 8/20/2012