February 14, 2011

U.S. DOT: Obama's budget an investment in America's economic success

Monday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said President Obama's $129 billion budget for the U.S. Department of Transportation (U.S. DOT), the first year of a comprehensive six-year transportation plan, will lay a new foundation for economic growth and competitiveness by rebuilding the nation's transportation systems, enabling innovative solutions to transportation challenges and ensuring the highest level of safety for all Americans.

"President Obama's budget for the Department of Transportation is a targeted investment in America's economic success," said Secretary LaHood. "If we're going to win the future, we have to out-compete the rest of the world by moving people, goods, and information more quickly and reliably than ever before. President Obama's investments in rebuilding our crumbling roadways and runways and modernizing our railways and bus systems will help us do just that."

Last week, Secretary LaHood joined Vice President Biden to announce that the budget provides $8 billion for the first year of a six-year, $53 billion high-speed rail investment plan. The budget will 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.

The Administration's six-year proposal will also provide $336 billion, a 48 percent increase over the previous authorization, to rebuild America's roads and bridges, and $119 billion, a 128 percent increase over the previous authorization, in funding for affordable, sustainable and efficient transit options.

To ensure that American businesses are equipped to out-succeed competitors around the world, the Administration's budget also prioritizes innovative programs and technological solutions to address our transportation challenges.

For the first time, the budget will establish a National Infrastructure Bank that will leverage private capital to build complex large-scale projects that hold significant economic benefits to a region or the nation as a whole. A new competitive incentive program, called the Transportation Leadership Awards, will reward unique projects that find new ways to connect people to opportunities and products to markets.

The FY 2012 budget also includes $1.2 billion to modernize America's air-traffic control system and help airlines transition from the radar-based air traffic control system of the past to the more reliable and more efficient satellite-based system of the future, known as Next Generation technology.

While road, transit and air travel are currently the safest they have ever been in America, the U.S. DOT will build on previous success to make it even safer. To accomplish that goal, the budget provides $50 million for the Department's ongoing campaign against distracted driving, as well as $35 million to promote seatbelt use and get drunk drivers off the road.  Also, for the first time, the Federal Transit Administration will be given the authority to oversee rail transit safety in cities across the country.

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