- Associated Press - Monday, March 30, 2015

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - The No. 2 official at the Vermont Agency of Transportation says it’s uncertain what an Obama administration proposal of $253 million in transportation funding for the state will mean.

Chris Cole, the agency’s deputy secretary, said it would take some time for officials to dig into hundreds of pages of details about the federal funding before understanding the full implications.

The U.S Department of Transportation issued an announcement Monday trumpeting $478 billion in funding nationwide over six years as the answer to America’s crumbling infrastructure.

“This is an opportunity to break away from 10 years of flat funding, not to mention these past six years in which Congress has funded transportation by passing 32 short-term measures,” U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in a statement.

Cole said it’s believed the proposal covers just two of about a half dozen major federal funding streams for roads and bridges, rail, airports, pedestrian and bike paths and other infrastructure. Another source of uncertainty: Monday’s announcement was about a Democratic administration’s proposal to a Republican Congress.

“We understand that the president’s proposal doubles the federal investment and that’s a good starting place for discussions with Congress,” Cole said. “As to the particulars, they will change during the legislative process and we will be working with our congressional delegation to ensure the final product takes Vermont and other small rural states needs into consideration.”

One question Vermont officials hope to answer is why the state would see an increase of less than 30 percent if the federal funding for the programs is set to double.

Federal transportation officials offered a comparison of what would happen if programs were level-funded under a stopgap funding measure Congress is considering versus what would happen if the president’s proposal were accepted as is.

Under flat funding, Vermont would receive nearly $198 million in highway funding and about $8.4 million in transit funding; the Obama proposal calls for Vermont to get $240.2 million in highway funds and about $13 million in transit funds.

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