Infrastructure Stimulus Amounts

Tom Bozzo

Around election time, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee had identified $45 billion in ready-to-go infrastructure projects a stimulus package. Now TrafficWorld reports that the Committee now is looking at $85 billion:

The recommendations, outlined in a Dec. 12 memo, include $30 billion for highways and bridges, $12 billion for transit, $4.9 billion for passenger rail, $5 billion for airports, $14.3 billion for environmental infrastructure, $7 billion for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and $10 billion for federal buildings, according to the committee.

To put this amount in perspective, under SAFETEA-LU, the highway and transit funding bill in effect through FY09, federal highway and transit expenditures run around $60 billion/year ($284 billion for FY05-FY09), so $42 billion on highways and transit is a pretty big increment.

That’s not to say that $100 billion/year is necessarily a large amount of money to spend in the less-short term, especially if we want things like vastly improved transit and passenger rail systems and considering some of the things $100B/year were spent on during the Bush administration. Politically, it seems to me that it would be better to fund the medium-term projects outside the stimulus package in a FY10+ infrastructure bill to follow SAFETEA-LU, which just so happens to be due this year. If the projects are valuable — and many are or will be — then then they should not be funded only in case of economic emergency.