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The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (U.S. DOT) decision to take $473 million from 671 unused 2003 to 2006 earmarks could be likened to a Robin Hood scenario — stealing from the rich to help the poor — but it could also get the transportation industry moving.
Under current legislation, the Obama Administration has had the authority to rescind the earmarks, but this is the first time it has been done, according to the U.S. DOT.
Each state’s unused funding will remain allocated to that state, as long as the work can begin by year-end 2012.
State DOTs must submit a plan for the use of the money to the U.S. DOT, and any funds not obligated by Dec. 31 will be redistributed to other states. Funds not obligated by the Dec. 31 deadline will be proportionally redistributed in FY 2013 to states that met the deadline.
Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood says this decision to make the unspent earmarks immediately available to other states “will create jobs and help improve transportation across the country.”
Effective Aug. 17, state departments of transportation have the ability to use their unspent earmarked highway funds, some of which are nearly 10 years old, on any eligible highway, transit, passenger rail, or port project, according to the U.S. DOT.
President Barack Obama says his administration “will continue to do everything [it] can to put Americans back to work. We’re not going to let politics stand between construction workers and good jobs repairing our roads and bridges.”
Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez says “states will be able to put these dollars to good use,” especially during the current economic difficulties. “These funds will create jobs in the short term and help bring about what President Obama called ‘an America built to last,’” Mendez noted in a written statement (http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/pr0306earmarks.htm) from the U.S. DOT.
For a complete list of unobligated FY 2003 to 2006 appropriation act earmarks (as of Aug. 15, 2012) and a state-by-state list of unobligated balances, go to www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/redisfy0306projects.htm.