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Rail News: Amtrak

Amtrak's Boardman: U.S. transportation funding needs to address national priorities


The nation's Highway Trust Fund should be replaced with a new surface transportation trust fund for projects that are national in scope and responsibility, and generate policy outcomes that the nation needs, Amtrak President and Chief Executive Officer Joseph Boardman told the National Press Club last week.

"The Highway Trust Fund is dead," Boardman said in prepared remarks. "We need to be thinking about how to replace it with a surface transportation program for the 21st Century."

The highway program should be replaced with a new, balanced fund that could provide investment in any surface mode — highway, transit, passenger- or freight-rail service. Such a fund would enable transportation planners, system users and other decision-makers to pursue funding for projects that will have a national impact, rather than chase “mode-specific” dollars, Boardman said, according to an Amtrak press release.

"A world-leading economy today requires a world-leading transportation system that strengthens the whole network and recognizes and supports the unique roles each mode plays in supporting interstate commerce," he said.

Under the current system, the United States is not making investments needed for growth and improvement, and is just barely keeping the existing transportation system going, he added.

"We are facing a real challenge and the bankruptcy of the Highway Trust Fund is just the tip of the iceberg," said Boardman. "It won’t be easy, but if we strive in good faith, we can find a way through to a solution that will give America what it needs."

The Highway Trust Fund is part of the federal surface transportation law known as MAP-21. The fund will run out of money later this year, and MAP-21 will expire on Sept. 30.