U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today praised President Obama’s $74 billion budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation. These funds will lay a new foundation for economic growth and competitiveness by investing in the national infrastructure network, building on recent safety achievements, and modernizing transportation systems through research and innovation, according to LaHood.
“President Obama’s budget for the Department of Transportation reflects our commitment to investing in an America that is built to last,” said Secretary LaHood. “A strong American economy depends on the roadways, runways, and railways that move people and goods from coast to coast and around the globe. President Obama’s plan will enable us to build the American infrastructure we need for tomorrow while putting people back to work today.”
The centerpiece of the President’s FY 2013 budget for the Department is a six-year $476 billion surface transportation reauthorization proposal that will improve America’s highways and transit networks. This proposed budget would be fully paid for using half the six-year savings achieved from ramping down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the other half used to pay down the national debt.
Investing in National Infrastructure
In order to strengthen the backbone of America’s transportation network, the six-year budget includes $305 billion to rebuild America’s roads and bridges, a 34 percent increase over the previous authorization. To help meet growing demand, the proposal also includes $108 billion in funding for affordable, sustainable, and efficient transit options, a 105 percent increase over the previous authorization.
The Administration’s national high-speed rail proposal is another critical part of its vision for modernizing America’s transportation network. The budget provides $2.5 billion for the first year of a six-year, $47 billion rail investment plan. This will help the Federal Railroad Administration continue to work with states as they plan and develop high-speed and intercity passenger rail corridors across the country. It will also place high-speed rail on equal footing with other transportation programs, revitalize domestic rail manufacturing, and ensure that the nation can reach President Obama’s goal of providing 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.
Building on Safety
The budget also provides nearly $30 billion over the next six years for surface transportation safety programs, an increase of 137 percent over the previous authorization. This includes $330 million over six years for the Department’s ongoing campaign against distracted driving. The reauthorization proposal would also give the Federal Transit Administration authority to oversee rail transit safety in cities across the country.
The FY 2013 budget also proposes a series of Pipeline Safety initiatives that will strengthen oversight of our Nation’s pipelines.
Modernizing through Research and Innovation
The Administration’s budget also prioritizes research, innovative programs, and technological solutions to address our transportation challenges. The FY 2013 budget includes more than $1 billion to modernize America’s air-traffic control system and help transition from the radar-based air traffic control system of the past to the more reliable, efficient, satellite-based system of the future, known as NextGen. The budget also proposes to strengthen the role of research and technology in transportation decision-making by moving the Research and Innovative Technology Administration (RITA) into a new Office of the Assistant Secretary for Research and Technology.
Related: ARTBA Weighs in on the Obama Administration’s DOT budget for FY 2013