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DOT's stimulus payouts reach $26.7 billion

(The following appeared on The Journal of Commerce website on March 23, 2011.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. ó The Department of Transportation is pushing more stimulus money out to states to reimburse them for completed infrastructure projects, with total payouts reaching nearly $26.7 billion as of March 11.

That's up from $26.5 billion on March 4 and $26.3 billion Feb. 25, reflecting DOT payments totaling nearly $200 million in each of the past two weeks. From Feb. 28 through March 11, the DOT paid out $521 million in stimulus project reimbursements, according to the Obama administration's Recovery.gov Web site.

In all, the DOT had $48 billion to spend from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, so it has more than $21 billion left to pay out. Through March 11, it had obligated over $44.7 billion to back active or planned projects, leaving more than $3 billion yet to lock down.

However, those totals will soon change to reflect a new grant implementing agreement signed this week between North Carolina's Department of Transportation, Norfolk Southern Railway, Amtrak and other parties. That allows the state to spend $461 million on grant projects under the administration's intercity passenger rail program, much of it to improve tracks in a key corridor used by NS for intermodal service, and will push the DOT's total of obligated ARRA funds up to $45.2 billion.

In addition, the DOT recently offered up $2.43 billion in unused passenger rail funds for new project bids, with most of that money coming from stimulus grants rejected by Florida. Applicants have until April 4 to send in their requests, and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the DOT will quickly decide how to allocate those funds.

The full story is at www.joc.com.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

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