Transportation Money & Grants in the 2017 Spending Bill
TIGER grants, FAST Act commitments and port security funding are some of the transportation money appropriated to DOT through September.
Last week President Donald Trump signed the 2017 Omnibus Funding Agreement, which includes funding for Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER), Port Security Grant Program and other transportation money earmarked for the Department of Transportation (DOT).
The bill appropriated $19.3 billion, about $6.2 billion below Trump's request. According to the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee summary, the bill provides $77.1 billion for transportation infrastructure. Here are specifics from the summary:
Highways – The bill allows $44 billion from the Highway Trust Fund to be spent on the Federal-aid Highways Program, which is $905 million above the fiscal year 2016 level. This funding mirrors the levels authorized in the “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act” (FAST Act), and will provide much needed improvements to America’s highways and bridges.
Air – Included in the legislation is $16.4 billion in total budgetary resources for the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – $127 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $508 million above the request. This will provide full funding for all air traffic control personnel, including 14,500 air traffic controllers, 7,400 safety inspectors, and operational support personnel.
Rail – The Federal Railroad Administration is funded at $1.85 billion, an increase of $173 million over the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $4.4 billion below the request. The bill provides $1.5 billion for Amtrak. The bill adopts the new Amtrak funding structure as authorized, providing $328 million for Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor and $1.2 billion to support the National Network. The bill requires overtime limits for Amtrak employees to reduce unnecessary costs. Rail safety and research programs are funded at $258 million, $20 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level. This will fund inspectors, training, and research programs. In addition, the bill provides $98 million in grants for safety improvements and investments to the physical rail infrastructure to help ensure the safety of passengers and local communities. No funding is provided for high-speed rail.
Transit – The bill provides $12.4 billion in total budgetary resources for the Federal Transit Administration – $657 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $7.5 billion below the request. Transit formula grants total $9.7 billion – consistent with the authorization level – to help local communities build, maintain, and ensure the safety of their mass transit systems. Within this amount, $2.4 billion is provided for Capital Investment Grants, including $1.5 billion for all current “Full Funding Grant Agreement” transit projects. Core capacity projects receive $333 million in the bill, and $408 million is included to fund all state and local “Small Starts” projects that will begin in fiscal year 2017. These programs provide competitive grant funding for major transit capital investments – including rapid rail, light rail, bus rapid transit, and commuter rail – that are planned and operated by local communities.
Maritime – The legislation includes $523 million for the Maritime Administration, $123 million above the fiscal year 2016 enacted level, to increase the productivity, efficiency and safety of the nation’s ports and intermodal water and land transportation. The Maritime Security Program is funded at the full authorized level of $300 million.
Safety – The legislation contains funding for the various transportation safety programs and agencies within the Department of Transportation. This includes $911 million in total budgetary resources for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – an increase of $42 million over the fiscal year 2016 enacted level – and $644 million for the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Also included is $236 million for the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, an increase of $13 million over the fiscal year 2016 enacted level.
TIGER Grants – The legislation funds National Infrastructure Investment grants (also known as TIGER grants) at $500 million, the same as the fiscal year 2016 enacted level and $750 million below the request. These grants are awarded by the Department of Transportation to states and local communities for infrastructure construction and improvements.