DOT lists transport projects in $2 trillion plan to woo Congress

Suggests $115 billion for roads and bridges and $174 billion to support vehicle electrification

The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge over the Anacostia River in Washington near the headquarters of the Transportation Department.  (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
The Frederick Douglass Memorial Bridge over the Anacostia River in Washington near the headquarters of the Transportation Department. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)
Posted April 8, 2021 at 10:12am

The Transportation Department is engaging with lawmakers by sending out a spreadsheet filled with specifics as an opening salvo in what promises to be a pitched debate over President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan.

In an email unveiling “the next level of detail” on transportation aspects of the plan, Edward McGlone, deputy assistant secretary for congressional affairs, attached for Democratic and Republican lawmakers a spreadsheet proposing how the $621 billion in transportation money in the roughly $2 trillion proposal would be spent. It was not clear how many lawmakers received the email.

McGlone noted that the spreadsheet “is intended to reflect the President’s vision and an initial set of proposals” and promised in his letter to follow up to hash out details.

“It is important to us to share this level of detail so that you can get a sense of how we arrived at the numbers that the President is proposing,” he wrote. “But we want to stress that we fully anticipate these numbers and proposals to go through revision as Congress deliberates on this.”

Of that $621 billion, $50 billion would be for what the administration describes as “cross-cutting resilience investments,” which is spending to build infrastructure that can withstand extreme weather events.

The biggest spending categories included $115 billion for roads and bridges and $174 billion to support the electrification of vehicles.

Of the road money, $50 billion would go toward modernization, $40 billion for bridges, $5 billion for Community Transportation Block Grants and $5 billion for a program called transportation alternatives.

The roads program would also include $10 billion for a carbon reduction program and $5 billion for congestion mitigation and air quality.

The bulk of the electrification money, $100 billion, would pay for consumer rebates, while $15 billion would support building some 500,000 electric-vehicle charging stations nationwide. Zero-emission transit vehicles would get $25 billion, while $20 billion would go toward school-bus electrification.

McGlone said the rest of the $174 billion for electric vehicles would be in the form of $14 billion worth of tax incentives, which were scored in the tax portion of the package.

Transit, rail and more

A total of $85 billion would go toward transit, including $55 billion for transit state of good repair, $25 billion for transit expansion and $5 billion for Americans with Disabilities Act implementation.

Rail, which would receive $80 billion, would include $16 billion in grants for Amtrak's National Network and $39 billion for its Northeast Corridor Modernization. Intercity passenger rail would receive $20 billion while freight rail and safety grants would receive $5 billion, according to the spreadsheet.

A new equity program, which aims to make transportation more equitable for Black, brown and rural communities, would receive $25 billion, including $10 billion for a program described simply as “Highways to Neighborhoods,” $5 billion for a “Thriving Communities Initiative,” $3 billion for Tribal Transportation Programs and $2 billion for transportation workforce training. The $25 billion is $5 billion more than was listed in the original 25-page fact sheet released by the Biden administration because that sheet did not mention tribal transportation or workforce development.

The spreadsheet also included $44 billion for “Accelerating Transformative Projects,” which are aimed at speeding up shovel-ready and other high-impact projects. That figure includes $25 billion for a “Transformational Infrastructure Projects Fund,” $5 billion to expand the existing Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant program, $3 billion to expand the Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) program and $2 billion for research projects.

Aviation programs amounted to $25 billion, including $10 billion for the Airport Improvement Program and $10 billion for airport terminal renovation grants. Ports and waterways would receive $17 billion. Various safety programs would get $20 billion, including $10 billion for the Safe Streets for All Fund.