Less Than One Percent of Transpo Stimulus Money Paid Out So Far

The New York Times reports this morning that the Obama administration’s $787 billion economic stimulus package has hit a few snags:

Some states and cities are beginning to complain that the money has yet
to reach them. Others have been slow to get their paperwork to
Washington; Virginia has yet to send the Transportation Department its
list of road projects.

The article credits the federal Department of Transportation (DOT) for allocating $10.5 billion — nearly one-quarter of its $48 billion slice of the stimulus pie — but only about $34 million of that, or 0.07 percent, has been paid out so far. Two-thirds of the $34 million came in the form of a grant to Amtrak.

Those numbers stand in contrast to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood’s claim yesterday in a speech to the National Retail Federation that "nearly all"
of his department’s stimulus money has been disbursed.

The Times’ evaluation comes a bit early in the game, given that the stimulus bill became law less than three months ago. Most economists have pointed to 18 months as the window in which the money should be spent in order to maximize its economic impact; even using that far-off marker, however, the current rate of stimulus spending is falling short.

Nevertheless, the administration is preparing to tout its progress on spending the money. Vice President Joe Biden will submit a quarterly report to the president today that credits the economic recovery effort with saving or creating 150,000 jobs.

Though that may not yet be the case, the DOT reports that more than 2,000 transit projects have been identified for funding. And the $8 billion set aside for transit, while far less than what was truly needed, is starting to be spent on projects in cities such as Seattle, Denver, and Phoenix.

You can view the AP’s interactive map of local transportation projects receiving stimulus cash right here.

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