ROADS/BRIDGES: State DOTs seek more information about old earmark funding

Jan. 11, 2016

The FHWA is expected to release a list of all decade-old earmarks that state DOTs will be allowed to access

Bud Wright, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), said states are seeking information about how much they will receive under the pending release of the 10-year-old earmarks provision. The provision under the five-year transportation bill that became law in December, will offer a funding bonus to state DOTs. 

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) is in the process of counting up the congressionally earmarked funds that qualify for repurposing under the new appropriations measure.

The earmarks allows state DOTs access to earmarks for specific projects that are at least 10-year- old and for which less than 10% of the total was required. States may apply the money to different projects within 50 miles of where the original earmark would have been spent, and must use it within three years after they notify the U.S. transportation secretary how they plan to spend it.

In addition, the provision will let state DOTs obtain any leftover funds from earmarks under which projects were completed at less cost than the congressional earmark provided.

"This provision releases a lot of funding and will apply to most states, though under some very specific conditions," Wright said.

"While we are waiting to see the FHWA's final tally, a repurposed earmark pool at the reported levels would be four times the size of the USDOT's annual TIGER grant program, just to put it into perspective. So it is a substantial amount and will be very welcome, as many states continue to struggle to pay for their transportation project needs."

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