LaHood: DOT moving quickly to help fund economic recovery

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The U.S. Department of Transportation is keeping its promise to use its economic recovery funding to invest in the nation’s transportation system and create jobs, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday, March 17.

In remarks to the National League of Cities in Washington, D.C., LaHood told the gathering of urban officials that USDOT has moved quickly to release funds to state offices and transit agencies. “In a very short time, your cities will be humming with construction workers, engineers, maintenance crews and many others,” he said.

“You’ll see roads repaved, interchanges improved, bus and rail systems repaired, upgraded and expanded,” LaHood said. “This effort not only puts people to work — it gets people to work in a way that moves us towards our long-term goals of energy security and more livable communities.”

In addition to funding currently being allocated, there soon will be additional opportunities to compete for discretionary funds for transportation projects, LaHood said. A team of senior officials across USDOT – the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) team – is tracking every dollar spent in order to ensure accountability and transparency, he said.

LaHood said the new authorization bill for highway and transit programs, soon to be taken up by Congress, will help keep people employed and transportation healthy after recovery funds are spent. The Obama administration will work closely with Congress to enact a bill that will focus on making communities more livable and sustainable, he said.

The new authorization also must address the need to look beyond the Highway Trust Fund and find new ways to finance surface transportation programs, such as a National Infrastructure Bank, public-private partnerships and tolling on newly built highways, LaHood said.