Transportation Funding and the 21st Annual ASBI Convention
Editorial by W. R. "Randy" Cox Manager, ASBI
The uncertainty of future transportation funding is affecting project planning and delivery for state transportation departments across the nation. Much of the focus has shifted to maintenance and repair projects that can be brought to contract with the available funds rather than the development of projects to address the aging bridge infrastructure and the congestion in urban areas.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) signed into law on February 17, 2009, provided $48.1 billion of stimulus funds for transportation investment. Of this, $26.6 billion was apportioned to the states for highway projects with the stipulation that 50% of the funds be obligated within 120 days. “Shovel ready” projects consisting of repaving and widening of roads account for the majority of approved projects.
Congress approved, and the President signed into law, H.R. 3357, providing for $7 billion in funds to keep the Highway Trust Fund solvent through the federal fiscal year ending September 30th. The White House and Senate favor an 18-month extension of the current transportation authorization, SAFETEA-LU, while the House of Representatives are moving ahead in support of House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman James Oberstar’s proposed 6-year transportation bill. The Surface Transportation Authorization Act of 2009 is a $500 billion program that would authorize $337.4 billion for highway construction, $99.8 billion for mass transit, and $12.6 billion for highway safety programs. These funds represent a 38% increase in authorizations established by SAFETEA-LU. An additional $50 billion would be provided for high-speed rail. This legislation, if approved, will significantly increase highway and transit funding and spur on the development and delivery of needed transportation projects nationwide.
The October 26-27 ASBI Convention at the Hilton Minneapolis provides a forum to showcase current segmental bridge design and construction innovations. Five presentations will focus on transit and rail projects in the U.S. and abroad. Other presentations will demonstrate the advantages of segmental bridge technology to address the nation’s infrastructure needs. Case studies of the I-35W St. Anthony Falls Bridge replacement and the Minneapolis Crosstown Project will be presented. Both of these sites, along with the Wakota Bridge Project, will be visited during the bridge tour on the afternoon of October 27th. Information about the convention program and registration may be found on the ASBI website at www.asbi-assoc.org. We hope to see you in Minneapolis!