More news on the transportation funding front this week as billions of dollars are yet again being injected into the country’s transportation system in an attempt to create jobs and spur economic activity.  The House was busy on Wednesday passing two bills that addressed the extension of SAFETEA-LU, the Highway Trust Fund, and capital funding for highways and transit.

Transportation and Infrastructure Investments in H.R. 2847, the Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010

In a close vote of 217-212, the House passed a $154 billion jobs bill (HR 2847) on December 16, 2009.  The “Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010” includes $36.7 billion for highways and transit, and extends several other programs aimed at creating jobs and helping those hit hardest by the recession.  The Senate is not expected to consider the bill this year, and may craft its own version after reconvening in 2010.  H.R. 2847 also incorporates the Surface Transportation Extension Act of 2009, which extends the core highway, highway safety, and transit programs through September 30, 2010, at $53.3 billion, the level assumed in the FY 2010 budget resolution.  In addition, the bill repeals the provision that prohibits Highway Trust Fund balances from earning interest and restores $20 billion to the Highway Trust Fund.

Highways:                   $27.5 billion

Transit:                       $8.4 billion

Amtrak:                       $800 million

House Passes FY10 Defense Appropriations; Includes Several Unrelated Program Extensions

On the same day, the House passed H.R. 3326, the FY 2010 Appropriations for the Department of Defense.  The vote was 395-34.  Included in the bill were several provisions to extend certain programs and to stimulate the economy. The program extensions run only until the end of February 2010, however, assuring that Congress will have to deal with them again early in the new year.  The bill provides $636.3 billion for the Department of Defense.  Among the non-defense provisions attached to the bill is the authorization for the highway, transit, highway safety and motor carrier safety programs of the Department of Transportation until February 28, 2010.  This means that if the “Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010” does not pass in the Senate, the Surface Transportation Authorization Extension will still apply through February of 2010.

Breakdown of the $36.7 Billion allocated for Highways and Transit in the Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010

Issue Jobs for Main Street Act of 2010
Total Transportation  Funding $36.7 billion
Highway Funding $27.5 billion total

–$60 million for competitive grants to serve ‘priority primary routes’

$20 million for disadvantaged business enterprises bonding assistance

–3% set-aside for Transportation Enhancements

–30% sub-allocated to metropolitan areas

Highway Funding Terms & Conditions –Available through September 30, 2011

–100% federal match

–Priority should be given to projects in economically distressed areas and those that can be completed within a 3-year timeframe

–90 days after apportionment a state loses 50% of any funding not yet under contract

–1 year after apportionment a state loses any funds remaining that are not under contract

Transit Funding $8.4 billion total

— $6.15 billion for formula grants, of which 80% is distributed via 5307 formula, 10% via 5340 and 10% via 5311, and  $100 million for discretionary greenhouse gas grants to transit agencies

–$500 million for New Starts/Small Starts

–$1.75 billion for Fixed Guideway modernization

Transit Terms & Conditions –Allows up to 10% of funding to be used for operating assistance

–Priority to economically distressed areas

–100% federal match

–90 days after apportionment agencies lose 50% of any funding not yet under contract

–1 year after apportionment agencies lose any funds remaining that are not under contract

Total Intercity Rail Funding $800 million

–$800 million for Amtrak for fleet modernization