The Obama administration is giving Alabama until Dec. 31 to allocate $51.5 million in unspent federal money for high-priority transportation projects — the highest total of any state — or lose the funds.

Alabama’s unspent total is highest among all the states. The administration also relaxed restrictions that would’ve forced states to spend nearly half a billion dollars worth of unused funds only on projects favored by members of Congress, freeing up the money to be used on any road, transit, bridge, rail or port project that wins federal approval.

Alabama and other states have until Oct. 1 to submit a list to the Obama administration and until the end of the year to “obligate” — or assign — the money to chosen projects.

States that miss those deadlines will lose their share of unspent funds and the money will be distributed to the rest of the field.

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