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Unspent Highway Funds

Unspent Highway Funds

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Published by CSGovts
The U.S. Department of Transportation recently made more than $470 million in unspent funds for transportation projects immediately available to states. The money comes from funds initially allocated for 671 earmarked projects in appropriations bills between 2003 and 2006 that are now either dead or delayed. While the rescissions could give states greater flexibility to use those funds, they could provide additional challenges for states hoping to jump-start their moribund projects.
The U.S. Department of Transportation recently made more than $470 million in unspent funds for transportation projects immediately available to states. The money comes from funds initially allocated for 671 earmarked projects in appropriations bills between 2003 and 2006 that are now either dead or delayed. While the rescissions could give states greater flexibility to use those funds, they could provide additional challenges for states hoping to jump-start their moribund projects.

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Published by: CSGovts on Aug 28, 2012
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08/28/2012

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CAPITOL
FACTS & FIGURES
 TRANSPORTATION
 THE COUNCIL OF STATE GOVERNMENTS
 U  G   0 
Unspent Highway Funds
The U.S. Department of Transportation made more than $470million available immediately to states for transportationprojects, according to an Aug. 17, 2012, announcement fromU.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
•ThemoneycomesfromfundsinitiallyallocatedtotheDepartmentofTransportationfor671earmarkedtransportationprojectsincludedinappropriationsbillsbetween2003and2006.TheHouseofRepresentatives,inrecentyears,hasbannedearmarksfromspendingbills.•Thetransportationdepartmentisnotifyingstatesabouttheamountofmoneytheyhaveleftfromprojectsthatwerenotcompletedorcostlessthanexpected.Statescanapplytousethosefundsforotherprojects.
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•Statesareexpectedtoretainanyunusedfundingtheyhavebeenallocated.•StatesmustidentifyplanstousethefundsbyOct.1andobligatethefundingbyDec.31.Fundsnotobli-gatedbytheendoftheyearcangotootherstatesin2013.
2
Statescouldstillspendthefundsontheprojectsforwhichtheywereearmarkedifthoseprojectsarenowreadytomoveforward.
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•TheObamaadministrationhastheauthoritytorescindtheearmarksbecauseoflanguageincludedintheappropriationsbills.Thisisthersttimethatauthorityhasbeenused.
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The earmarks were primarily for transportation projects thatare now dead or have been delayed.
•Insomecases,theprojectwascompletedandsomefundingwasleftover.•Otherprojectshavebeenheldupduetodelaysindesign,environmentalreview,additionalfundingavail-abilityorotherissues.
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Eighteen states have more than $10 million in rescindedearmark funds available.
•Alabama($51.5million),California($43.1million),Texas($30.8million),NewYork($29million)andPennsylvania($28.5million)havethemostfundsavailableamongthestates.•Wyomingistheonlystatewithnofundsavailable.•Californiahas71earmarkedprojectsthatcouldlosefunding,themostofanystate.
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REFERENCES
1
2
“USDOT Frees Up $473m for State, Local Road & Transit Projects.”Transportation Issues Daily. August 18, 2012. Accessedfrom:
http://www.transportationissuesdaily.com/usdot-frees-up-473m-for-state-local-road-transit-projects/ 
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4
“USDOT Frees Up…”
5
Ibid.
6
Federal Highway Administration. “Unobligated Balances of FY 2003-2006 Appropriation Act Earmarks (as of August 15, 2012).”Accessed from:
http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/pressroom/redisfy0306states.htm
 
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Sean Slone, CSG Senior Transportation Policy Analyst |sslone@csg.org
The rescissions could have both advantages and disadvantagesfor states.
•TwoKentuckyroadprojects—aninterchangeandaconnectingroad—nearabusinessandindustrialparkinBowlingGreenforwhichmorethan$7millionwasearmarkedareactuallywellunderway.Theyarebothfullydesigned,rights-of-wayarebeingpurchasedandsomeutilitiesarebeingrelocatedtomakewayfortheprojects.Buttheconstructionphasecan’tmoveforwardbecauseafederallawsuitconcerningenvi-ronmentalreviewstandardsispendingattheappealscourtlevel.StateTransportationCabinetofcialssayit’spossiblethelawsuitwon’tberesolvedbytheendoftheyear,sothestatecouldhavetoreobligatethefundstootherprojectsandndadditionalfederalfundsfortheBowlingGreenprojectslater.•Thereleaseoftheearmarkscangivestatesmoreexibilityincaseswheretheamountofthefederalearmarkdidn’tcomeclosetowhatisactuallyneededforaprojecttobegin.Forexample,Kentuckytrans-portationofcialspointtoa$983,000allocationfortheInterstate66projectinPikeCounty,acomparativelysmallamountonabillion-dollarprojecttheysayisdif-cultforthemtospendeffectively.
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