Monday, January 20, 2014

Omnibus Bill Broken Out For Transportation Dollars


Last Friday, the President signed the $1.86 trillion dollar "Omnibus Bill" into law. The Omnibus law is an appropriations package for fiscal year 2014 that establishes discretionary spending at $1.012 trillion and provides $98 billion for defense and disaster relief. 
It also includes $53.5 billion in non-discretionary “obligation limitation” funding for the Department of Transportation. This is $164 million below what was designated for 2013 and $4.9 billion below the President had requested.
Here's how transportation dollars are broken out in the bill:

Highways – Provides almost $41 billion in obligation limitation funding for the Federal Highway program – the same level authorized in the MAP-21 transportation authorization legislation, which expires on September 30, 2014. This is an increase of $557 million from the fiscal year 2013 level.

Transit – Contains $2.15 billion for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA), a decrease of $100 million from the fiscal year 2013 level. It also allows $8.6 billion in state and local transit grant funding from the Mass Transit Account (of the Highway Trust Fund), consistent with MAP-21, to help communities build, maintain, and ensure safety of mass transit systems. 

The legislation provides a total of $2.1 billion (which includes funding from prior years and $93m in bus rapid transit projects) for Capital Investment Grants (“New Starts”), full funding for state and local “Small Starts,” and funding for all current “Full Funding Grant Agreement” projects. These programs provide competitive grant funding for major transit capital investments, including rapid rail, light rail, bus rapid transit, and commuter rail, planned and operated by local communities.

Air –
Included in the legislation is $12.4 billion for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), $168 million below the fiscal year 2013 level. This funding will support the full operations of the air traffic control system, including the hiring and training of air traffic controllers and safety inspectors to ensure that facilities are fully staffed to serve the nation’s flying public. The bill preserves funding for FAA’s Next Generation air transportation systems (NextGen) – investments that will help ease future congestion and reduce delays for travelers in U.S. airspace. In addition, $3.35 billion in “obligation limitation” funding is provided for airport construction projects. The bill also rejects the Administration’s proposals for new passenger facility fees.

Rail –
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is funded at $1.6 billion, a decrease of $34.6 million below 2013 levels. The bill expands oversight and includes policy reforms for Amtrak to ensure the best use of tax dollars. The bill included $1.390b for Amtrak capital grants and no funding is provided for High Speed Rail.

TIGER –
Provides $600m for the discretionary capital program.  Passenger and rail freight transportation projects are now eligible and there is a $35m set-aside for planning, preparation, or design of eligible projects.

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SRTC is the federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization (MPO) for Spokane County. Urbanized areas with populations exceeding 50,000 people are required to have an MPO. SRTC was formed to address the county's transportation planning needs. It provides coordination in planning between the public, cities, small towns, the county, the state, transit providers, and tribes.

SRTC offers services including transportation monitoring, transportation modeling, census information analysis, travel demand forecasting, historical traffic count analysis, geographic information systems, and trip generation rates.