In mid-February, Congress finally passed, and President Bush signed, the Revised Continuing Appropriations Resolution that establishes federal, fiscal year (FY) 2007 spending levels for a range of domestic and foreign-aid agencies and programs. Included in the $463.5 billion bill are appropriations for the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), as well as for natural resource and water infrastructure projects of interest to engineers.
According to an analysis by the North American Concrete Alliance (NACA), the federal-aid highway program will receive almost $39 billion, the level authorized by SAFETEA-LU, which is $3.4 billion more than authorized for FY2006. The Airport Improvement Program receives $3.5 billion for aviation construction grants, $765 million more than requested by the Bush administration.
The budget bill also provides $1 billion for the Clean Water state revolving loan program, an increase of $197 million compared with the FY2006 level, according to NACA, and $40 million for the Natural Resources Conservation Service’s small watershed dam rehabilitation program.
Now that FY2007 spending levels are in place for these programs-almost six months after the start of the fiscal year-Congress begins the process of considering FY2008 budgets. The Bush administration recently requested $67 billion for the DOT for FY2008, including $42 billion for highway construction and safety programs, plus the following expenditures, among others:
- $175 million to cut traffic congestion by developing commuter traffic information systems, accelerating construction along trade and travel corridors, and helping metropolitan areas test new solutions;
- $1.3 billion for commuter rail and transit projects for urban areas; and
- $100 million for transit projects in smaller towns and rural areas.
However, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) expressed concern about cuts in transit and aviation budgets. The $9.4 billion proposed budget for transit programs is $309 million below the level authorized by SAFETEA-LU, and the Airport Improvement Program takes a $765 million hit, AASHTO says.
On the environmental front, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requested $7.2 billion for FY2008, which includes a $9.1 million increase in funding for enforcement operations. The proposed spending plan also includes the following:
- $28.8 million (increase of $2 million) for restoring Chesapeake Bay, including sediment controls;
- $1 million for improving water quality and cleaning up contaminated sediments in Puget Sound;
- $4.5 million to assist Gulf Coast states in developing a framework for restoring and protecting the Gulf of Mexico;
- $687.5 million for clean water grants;
- $842.2 million for drinking water grants;
- $1.2 billion for Superfund; and
- $162.2 million for the Brownfields program.