© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Traffic travels on First Avenue in Manhattan, New York City, New York, U.S., April 22, 2021. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly
By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden’s proposed Transportation Department budget puts a sharp focus on the nation’s infrastructure, boosting funding for trains and transit as well as spending on aviation and highway safety.
Biden’s proposed budget, which was released Friday, would spend $88 billion, some of it to modernize 20,000 miles of highways and roads, fix ten bridges deemed most economically significant and repair the worst 10,000 smaller bridges.
Under the plan, the government would also replace thousands of buses and rail cars and update airports which need it, according to a White House fact sheet. It is separate from Biden’s proposed $2.3 trillion infrastructure and jobs proposal.
“It (the budget) will start giving America the tools to get back to work, modernize our infrastructure, combat the climate crisis, and build equity into our transportation system so everyone can get around safely and affordably,” said Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg in a statement.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would get an additional $50 million for vehicle safety programs, including such disparate efforts as monitoring automated driving systems and reduce air pollution. NHTSA currently spends about $350 million annually on operations and research.
The Federal Aviation Administration would get another $17.4 million for aviation safety oversight in the wake of two fatal Boeing (NYSE:) 737 MAX crashes. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said it would use the bulk of that new funding to hire 162 additional people for aviation safety, including inspectors and engineers.
Amtrak, the nation’s passenger rail, would receive a 35% increase or $2.7 billion to be used for track renewal, to update train stations and perform needed maintenance.
Biden has long been associated with Amtrak because of his decades commuting on the 90-minute train ride between Washington and his home in Wilmington, Delaware, when he was a U.S. senator.
The government-funded rail service is asking Congress for $31 billion in funding over the next five years to expand its Northeast Corridor that runs from Boston to Washington.
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