President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 budget proposed, among others, almost doubling the amount spent on U.S. highway, bridge and mass transit projects.
$476 billion is the budget for the next 6 years, and the president calls for an immediate $50 billion infusion in spending this year. The plan also includes the increase of transportation lending program by four fold while reducing funding for airport grants.
“This transportation budget is fully paid for,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on a conference call with reporters. “This is real money.”
Obama would transfer $38.5 billion a year from the US general fund for use on roads and bridges, to supplement the Highway Trust Fund income, which finances U.S. transportation projects using vehicle-fuel taxes. Due to reduced war expenditures, there is enough money to pay down the US deficit.
$5 billion will be allotted to the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Program, or TIFIA, which offers loans to help pay for toll-road and other projects in combination with private financing. On the other hand the budget reduces grants to airports by $900 million, as grant money is directed more to small airports, the larger airports being able to raise money by increasing so-called passenger facility charges on airline tickets.