USDOT is About to Get Bigger… Much, Much Bigger
Washington D.C. — The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) will soon be growing much larger and more powerful.
Congress just approved a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package which will deliver roughly $550 billion in new federal spending, including $660 billion to be managed by the USDOT.
At a press briefing from the White House this week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg said the Department will need to increase its workforce in order to ensure the funds are managed properly.
Currently, the USDOT employs about 54,000 people including more than 1,100 in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration alone.
However, at a separate press event this week, USDOT Deputy Secretary Polly Trottenberg indicated the Department could soon add as much as 50% more personnel with the expected yearly budget increase of $50 billion.
“We will go from being … around a $90 billion-a-year agency to one that will be closer to $140 billion,” Trottenberg said. “Not all of that money will be needed to run the Department, but obviously we’re an agency that’s going to grow. We will need new members of the team, and we’re in the process of moving forward in some of those new hiring needs.”
Included in the infrastructure legislation is $100 billion, in part, for discretionary grant programs such as Infrastructure For Rebuilding America (INFRA) and Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE).
The bill also delivers $1 billion for an initiative known as “Reconnecting Communities.”
Sec. Buttigieg described the program’s mission as “confronting and dealing with… where sometimes it was federal dollars that divided a community often along racial lines.”
The USDOT’s priorities will be to both deconstruct certain interstates, highways and bridges, as well as to add to existing roadways.
“Sometimes it is the case that an overpass went in a certain way that an overpass is so harmful that it’s gotta come down or maybe be put underground. Other times maybe it’s not that way. Maybe the really important thing is to connect across it, to add instead of subtract,” the Secretary stated.
President Biden initially called for $20 billion in funding for the new program, but it was scaled back during legislative negotiations.
As for INFRA and RAISE, Mr. Buttigieg said the Department will award funding grants for new projects which focus on “economic strength, safety, climate, equity and preparing for the future.”