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DOT has now obligated $44.7 billion in stimulus money

(The following appeared on the Journal of Commerce website on March 14, 2011.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Department of Transportation's last big rail grant agreement helped push its total of obligated funds from the 2009 economic stimulus package over $44.7 billion, leaving about $3.4 billion yet to lock down.

Out of $48.1 billion the DOT could spend under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the total made available through March 4 is up from $44.1 billion on Feb. 25.

In between, the DOT announced a multi-party agreement in Washington to implement a $590 million grant, which will fund upgrades to BNSF Railway tracks between Seattle and Portland, Ore., to handle more Amtrak service in the Pacific Northwest. Paula Hammond, the state's transportation secretary, told The Journal of Commerce the money should allow BNSF to start construction this summer to improve passenger rail service and boost freight rail efficiency between the region's seaports.

To use up remaining ARRA funds at the DOT, officials say they are still ahead of deadlines set in the stimulus law. Most of the money yet to be obligated is under the administration's intercity passenger rail program, and they had until September 2012 to lock that money down. DOT officials expect to obligate the rest of the passenger rail money this year.

The full story is at www.joc.com.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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