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Federal Funds Helped States Pay for Transportation Work in 2010

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12/30/2010 8:00:00 AM

By Michele Fuetsch, Staff Reporter

This story appears in the Dec. 20 27 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Fallout from the recession continued to dominate states’ transportation decisions during 2010, as some federal money flowed in, but tax revenues for many remained depressed.

Federal economic stimulus funds allowed many states to carry out badly needed road and bridge maintenance. Indeed, for some states, the federal money underwrote record transportation spending.

Vermont, for instance, spent $120 million on paving in 2010, topping its previous record of $100 million. In June, Ohio marked the end of the 2010 fiscal year by celebrating a record $2 billion in transportation construction spending, and then kicked off the 2011 fiscal year with plans to spend another $2 billion.

Many states, however, had to make severe cuts in their transportation budgets that diminished services and employment rolls.

Between February and October, the Missouri Department of Transportation eliminated 201 positions.

In Indiana, the Department of Transportation announced in September that it also was laying off workers. The state already had laid off half its commercial vehicle inspectors in June — the same month that Michigan laid off a third of its inspectors.

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New York was among the states that targeted highway rest stops for closure in order to save money, although in 2010, Virginia and Arizona reopened the rest stops they closed during 2009.

In the face of strong legislative opposition, however, Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell abandoned his plan to infuse the state’s lagging transportation fund with cash reaped from turning the state-run retail liquor system over to private investors who were to pay for retail liquor licenses.

Infrastructure investment made headlines nationally in October when the Hoover Dam Bridge opened to traffic crossing the Colorado River between Nevada and Arizona. Part of a new U.S. 93 bypass that takes traffic off the top of the dam, the bridge sits nearly 900 feet in the air and is the longest single-span concrete arch bridge in the Western Hemisphere.

In Michigan, lawmakers failed to pass legislation that would allow the state to partner with Canada to build a new publicly owned bridge between Detroit and Windsor, Ontario, that the trucking and auto industries say is critical for international trade. Canada has offered to pay Michigan’s share of the construction costs but the proposed new bridge is strongly opposed by Matty Moroun, the owner of the current crossing, the Ambassador Bridge.

© 2010, Transport Topics Publishing Group. All rights reserved.


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