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USDOT's FY2011 budget backs transit safety, infrastructure grant program


Yesterday, the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) announced the Obama Administration has proposed a $79 billion transportation budget for fiscal-year 2011, up 2 percent compared with FY2010’s budget. The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

The budget would “place a strong emphasis on transit safety” by appropriating $30 million for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) to strengthen safety oversight and stipulating up to 260 new positions — including 130 at the FTA — to support the Obama Administration’s Public Transportation Safety Program Act of 2009, which aims to ensure a “high and standard level of safety across all transit systems,” according to the USDOT.

The Federal Railroad Administration’s budget would be set at $2.9 billion, including $1 billion for high-speed rail (in addition to the $8 billion in stimulus funds that the Obama Administration awarded last week), $1.6 billion for Amtrak, and $244 million for safety and operating programs.

In addition, the budget would establish and provide $4 billion for a National Infrastructure Innovation and Finance Fund, which will enable the USDOT to issue grants and loans to support projects that provide a “significant economic benefit” to the nation or a region.

Transit funding would total $10.8 billion, including $2.8 billion for “state of good repair” infrastructure projects, $1.8 billion for New Starts and Small Starts program projects, and $150 million for the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority to improve infrastructure, safety and service reliability.

The proposed budget follows up on President Obama’s commitment to continue funding high-speed rail projects, but doesn’t provide dollars to implement positive train control (PTC), said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) officials in a prepared statement.

“We urge Congress to fund [PTC], which has a congressional mandate,” they said.

The proposed budget also underscores the need for a long-term authorization bill that increases public transportation investment and supports jobs, APTA officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 2/2/2010