While states across the country are facing crunched budgets and struggling to reduce unemployment and put people back to work, they are sitting on more than $470 million in unspent transportation funds meant to pay for road, highway, and other infrastructure projects, the Dept. of Transportation said last Friday. In an effort to speed up spending ”that will create jobs and help improve transportation,” the Obama administration said it would free up those funds for other projects if they aren’t used in the 2013 fiscal year.
Roughly $473 million in funds that were earmarked in 2003 to 2006 appropriations packages remain unspent by states, according to DOT. As this chart from Transportation Nation shows, Alabama ($51.5 million) and California ($43.1 million) lead the nation in unspent funds, and three other states have at least $28 million in transportation money that has not been spent:
In a release Friday, President Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that the funds would be freed up for transportation projects other than those for which they were specifically earmarked. If states fail to spend the money or re-obligate it to other projects by the end of the 2013 fiscal year, it will be released for use in other states. “We are freeing up these funds so states can get down to the business of moving transportation projects forward and putting our friends and neighbors back to work,” LaHood said.