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Mullan-2011

Posted by Jeffrey Mullan, MassDOT Secretary & Chief Executive Officer

Last week, I wrote that I would devote the next few weekly messages to a conversation about the Commonwealth’s transportation system. The key point from last week’s message is that transportation reform is here to stay, and that our focus on efficiencies, savings and continual improvement is how we must do things both now and in the future.

This week's point concerns a potential decrease in Federal funds available for transportation in the future.  Most of you know that the reauthorization of Federal transportation funding has expired and that a debate on a new law is underway.  You may also know that the Highway Trust Fund, which was designed to provide all of our Federal highway aid and much of our Federal transit funding, has not had enough money in it to support all of the Federal aid that has been authorized by law for several years.  To make up the difference, Congress has authorized the use of general fund revenues.  Based on the current debate, it now seems likely, but not certain, that this subsidy will end.  Based on the best information available, if that happens, we are projecting that we would lose $135 million annually in Federal highway funds and $57 million in Federal transit funds.

We will continue to push for the best outcome possible, but also need to be realistic about the challenges faced by the Congress that we read and hear about every day.  If we are not successful in maintaining funding, we will have fewer resources available and will fall further behind.  Regardless of how it turns out, 2011 looks to be a watershed year for transportation policy and investment at the Federal level.

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