Presidential budget gives DOT a slight boost

The Bush Administration’s fiscal year 2008 budget proposal calls for $67 billion to allocated to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, with $528 million going to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The Bush Administration’s fiscal year 2008 budget proposal calls for $67 billion to be allocated to the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, with $528 million going to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

An initiative to alleviate commuter traffic was a significant line item, evidenced by $175 million proposed to “help get traffic moving on clogged highways and city streets,” said Transportation Secretary Mary Peters.

DOT says the $175 million will be used to develop commuter traffic information systems, accelerate construction along trade and travel corridors and helping metropolitan areas test new solutions.

“This funding will help growing metropolitan areas that want to test leading-edge solutions,” stated Peters. “It will help get real-time traffic information to commuters, so they will know in advance when the roads are congested, and be able to make alternative travel plans.”

Peters warned that the highway trust fund is trending toward bankruptcy unless there is “serious reform” of the budget process and pork barrel spending is contained. “The explosive growth of earmarks in recent years has hit transportation programs especially hard,” said Peters. “The law that funds highway, transit, and safety projects had over 6,000 of them, a practice that takes away from the freedom states have to put the money where it will do the most good.”

The President’s energy security plan calls for reforming and increasing Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards for cars, light trucks and SUV fuel efficiency standards.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) received a modest increase to $528 million from $521 million in FY 2007.

Motor carrier safety operation and programs will be allotted $228 million, with the breakdown as follows:

  • Safety initiatives get $188.5 million to advance motor carrier standards and rulemakings, enforcement, enforcement at the borders, motor carrier safety education and practices, oversight of physical certification of drivers, improve safety information and analysis, and advancing technological solutions.
  • Hazmat security initiatives get $7.2 million for hazmat carriers
  • “Productivity” initiatives get $3.6 million to “improve the efficiency and integrity of commercial truck and bus transportation by ensuring compliance with FMCSA regulations.”
  • Global connectivity initiatives get $400,000 to boost efficiency of motor carriers engaged in cross border commerce.
  • “Organizational excellence” initiatives get $28 million to meet the objectives of the President’s management agenda.

Motor carrier safety grants to support state enforcement, regulatory compatibility, and safety-related information systems will amount to $300 million. The breakdown is as follows:

  • Motor carrier safety assistance program state grants will total $202 million to support state motor carrier compliance reviews, roadside inspections, enforce violations, and ensure new carriers pass safety audits.
  • International border enforcement initiatives will receive $32 million to ensure Mexican and Canadian trucks and buses follow U.S. safety standards.
  • Commercial vehicle information systems and networks grants will amount to $25 million to support the integration of information among enforcement officials. This would enable more targeted enforcement, FMCSA said.
  • State commercial driver’s license initiatives will receive $25 million to prevent unqualified drivers from receiving CDLs.
  • $8 million will be allotted for FMCSA to work with the American Assn. of Motor Vehicle Administrators to complete specifications of the new commercial driver’s license information system (CDLIS).
  • A program to link state motor vehicle registration systems with carrier safety data, known as the performance registration information systems and management (PRISM), will be given $5 million.
  • Safety data improvement grants will provide $3 million to support state initiatives.
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