USDOT unveils 2010 budget framework

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The U.S. Department of Transportation today, Feb. 26, unveiled the framework of its proposed fiscal year 2010 budget. Additional budget details will be available in April of this year. USDOT says the Obama administration will work closely with Congress over the next few months to determine the details for funding surface transportation.

“This administration inherited a difficult problem – a system that can no longer pay for itself,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “We are looking at every option to solve it, but we are not going to be ready overnight.”

USDOT says the budget proposal provides a broad framework that commits funds for sustainable solutions for surface transportation, explores options to make the nation’s communities more livable through increased funding for public transit, supports development of a high-speed rail network across the country, and supports the Next Generation Air Transportation System to modernize the air traffic control system. “This budget is a start toward setting the nation’s transportation system on a sustainable path,” LaHood says.

The administration has proposed a five-year $5 billion high-speed rail state grant program. USDOT says this funding will build on the $8 billion down-payment in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and marks President Obama’s commitment to provide Americans a practical and environmentally sustainable alternative to flying or driving.

The budget also provides about $800 million for the Next Generation Air Transportation System, a long-term effort to improve the efficiency, safety and capacity of the air traffic control system. USDOT says the 2010 budget supports moving from a ground-based radar surveillance system to a more accurate satellite-based surveillance system, development of more efficient routes through the airspace, and improvements in aviation weather information.

USDOT says the administration is committed to maintaining small communities’ access to the National Airspace System; the budget provides a $55 million increase over its 2009 level to fulfill current program requirements as demand for subsidized commercial air service increases.

To more transparently display program resources, the administration proposes changing the budgetary treatment of transportation programs to show both budget authority and outlays as discretionary; the change is intended to convey to the taxpayer the real costs of supporting the transportation infrastructure our nation needs. For more details on the president’s budget, visit the OMB website at www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget.