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8/12/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

FRA seeks advisor to help process small roads' RRIF applications, ASLRRA says




Federal Railroad Administration is looking for a railroad financial advisor to help process and assess Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program applications, according to American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association's (ASLRRA) recent bi-weekly newsletter.

Launched in 2001 as part of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), RRIF authorizes FRA to provide $3.5 billion in direct loans or loan guarantees to eligible railroads (including $1 billion set aside for regionals and short lines), state and local governments, and government-sponsored authorities to acquire, develop, improve or rehabilitate existing or new intermodal or rail facilities. In two years, FRA has approved RRIF loans for only five regionals and short lines.

"This is a positive development, and will expedite the processing of new applications and help close-out the longstanding backlog," the newsletter states. "With this addition to the FRA staff, a much clearer and more definitive dialogue with the Office of Management and Budget — the final approval agency — will be possible."

In February, FRA contracted Volpe Transportation Center to review the RRIF application process and recommend ways the agency can simplify and speed loans. The center expects to release its report in mid-September.

In May, Federal Railroad Administrator Allan Rutter said the agency had identified $600 million worth of small-road infrastructure projects under RRIF, and that the program "was working and money is flowing, [but] it's our job to get it to you."



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