Bush requests $68B for DOT in FY 2009 budget

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Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters said Monday, Feb. 4, that President Bush’s $68 billion budget for the Department of Transportation funds DOT’s critical safety programs, provides financing for much-needed congestion relief programs for the nation’s roads and airways, and honors the six-year transportation funding commitment under SAFETEA-LU.

“This budget helps us move forward on a new course that delivers high levels of safety, takes advantage of modern technology and financing mechanisms, and eases congestion with efficient and reliable transportation systems,” Peters said.

Peters said almost one-third of the budget will go toward safety programs to help make travel safer by focusing on problem areas like runway incursions and near misses in the air, motorcycle crashes and pedestrian injuries. The budget also provides funding to hire additional safety personnel, such as air traffic controllers and pipeline inspectors.

In addition, the budget places a strong focus on fighting congestion, building on the department’s efforts to identify and implement new, innovative ways to fight gridlock on the roads and in the air, Peters said. To help supplement these efforts, the budget also provides a record $10.1 billion for transit programs.

“If last year’s record traffic jams and flight delays taught us anything, it is that traditional approaches are not capable of producing the results we need to keep America’s economy growing,” Peters said.

Peters indicated that the FY 2009 budget more than doubles the investment in NextGen technology – providing $688 million for the transformation from radar-based to satellite-based air traffic systems to help meet the nation’s rapidly growing demand for air travel.

Peters said the budget also encourages innovation in fighting gridlock by proposing to use $175 million in inactive earmarks and 75 percent of certain discretionary highway and transit program funds to fight congestion, giving priority to projects that combine a mix of pricing, transit and technology solutions.

“Instead of having our transportation dollars whittled away with hundreds of congressional earmarks, we need to direct funding to projects that have the most impact on highway performance and congestion relief,” Peters said.