The Senate Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee this week made available almost $86.6 billion in transportation spending as part of its fiscal year 2020 appropriations bill.
The measure would hand over $1 billion for Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grants; $46.3 billion for highway projects; $17.7 billion to the Federal Aviation Administration; $2.8 billion for rail projects funded through the Federal Railroad Administration, an amount that includes $2 billion for Amtrak's Northeast Corridor and other projects; $13 billion for Federal Transit Administration projects and programs; more than $900 million for ports and other maritime projects; and about $2 billion for transportation safety.
The bill represents an increase of $167 million from 2019. The Senate Appropriations Committee will review the bill at a hearing scheduled for today.
More specifically, the funding measure would provide:
- $1.25 billion for Surface Transportation Block Grant funds and to eliminate hazards at railway-highway grade crossings
- $1.25 billion in repair money for small states with high rates of substandard bridges
- $100 million for the Appalachian Development Highway System
- $100 million for Nationally Significant Federal Lands and Tribal Projects grants
- $255 million for Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement grants
- $300 million for Federal-State Partnership for State of Good Repair grants
- $2 million for Restoration and Enhancement grants
- $2 billion for Capital Investment Grants (COG)
- $92 million for the Port Infrastructure Development Program
The bill summary provided by the subcommittee states that the nearly $2 billion for the CIG program fully funds all current “Full Funding Grant Agreement” (FFGA) transit projects, along with new projects that have met the program criteria. Those projects include sections 1 and 2 of the Westside Subway project in Los Angeles; the Peninsula Corridor Electrification project in San Carlos, California; the first phase of the Red and Purple Line Modernization in Chicago; the Green Line extension in Boston; and the Purple Line light-rail project in Maryland.
However, according to Transportation for America, federal appropriations and disbursements are two different things. According to the group, since President Donald Trump took office in 2017, only a small portion of appropriations have been handed out to projects. To date, Transportation for America says Congress has given almost $3.8 billion to the USDOT's Federal Transit Administration for transit projects but that the agency has only awarded about $1.4 billion of that amount. FTA officials have previously responded to the claims by arguing that the projects in question have yet to meet all program requirements.