The Alaska Railroad Corp. (ARRC) would receive Federal Transit Administration (FTA) formula funds near current levels under a proposed transportation bill that the House-Senate Transportation Conference Committee agreed to earlier this week.
The railroad was informed of the news by Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska), who served on the conference committee and serves on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, ARRC officials said in a prepared statement.
ARRC officials had been concerned about the railroad’s ability to provide passenger-rail service if its funding levels under the Senate’s two-year, $109 billion transportation bill survived the committee’s negotiations. The Senate bill would have reduced ARRC’s FTA formula funds by at least 75 percent, which would have put the railroad’s passenger service in jeopardy, as Progressive Railroading recently reported in a web exclusive article.
Details of the formula and the railroad’s exact funding amount under the conference committee’s agreement are not confirmed, ARRC officials said. However, they were told to expect about $31 million in annual formula funds — down from the current $35.8 million, but still not the drastic cut as feared under the Senate bill, they said.
ARRC President and Chief Executive Officer Chris Aadnesen thanked Alaska’s congressional delegation — Young and Sens. Lisa Murkowski (R) and Mark Begich (D) — for their work to retain the railroad’s funding in the legislation.
“We deeply appreciate their backing as well as the support we received from Alaskans from every corner of the state, our employees, and labor leaders from across the country,” Aadnesen said. “The fact that we had Don Young, who is such a great fighter for Alaska and the railroad, on the conference committee was absolutely invaluable. His long-term relationships with many of the House and Senate conference committee members were critical to our success.”
The House and the Senate are expected to consider the committee’s agreement before the current extension of the transportation reauthorization law expires tomorrow.
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