President George W. Bush’s proposed fiscal year 2007 budget has earmarked $65.6 billion to the Dept. of Transportation (DOT) out of the total $2.77 trillion. The DOT said that this would fully fund the highway bill signed by the President in August—providing nearly $50 billion for transit, highways and safety programs.

A total of $1.3 billion is earmarked for highway safety improvement programs, which covers $815 million to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and $517 to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). These moneys will be used to reduce the highway fatality rate, increase seat belt usage, support increased oversight of state grants directed by FMCSA, support for oversight of hazardous materials transportation, and state enforcement of commercial truck and bus regulations, the White House said.

The National Highway System was earmarked to receive $23.7 billion for maintenance and improvements, while $7.8 billion was allotted to programs that reduce highway congestion.

The proposal also grants $100 million to a pilot program to evaluate alternatives to the gasoline fuel tax for financing highway construction and managing congestion. This program would call for partnerships with up to five states to consider fees, tolls and other revenue streams, DOT noted.

“We will see how the public accepts these approaches, how well they raise revenue, and whether they are indeed more effective in reducing traffic congestion,” said Transportation Secretary Norman Y. Mineta.

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