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Rail News Home Federal Legislation & Regulation

November 2012

Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

U.S. infrastructure spending a hot topic for analysis; plus, freight rail traffic data


Two recently-released national reports and an annual survey revealed interesting observations about the shortcomings of U.S. spending on transportation and infrastructure.

Among them was a report from Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, which noted that the signing of the new MAP-21 surface transportation law provides $105 billion in federal funding for fiscal years 2013 and 2014. In addition, the U.S. Department of Transportation recently released $470 million in transportation funds to pay for infrastructure repairs. Nonetheless, those efforts aren’t enough to “represent the sort of long-term solutions” necessary to overhaul the nation’s transportation infrastructure, which is a “must” to foster economic growth, according to the S&P’s report, “A Short-Term Approach to Funding Leaves U.S. Transportation Without A Solid Long-Term Plan.”

CAP: Politics drove MAP-21

Also, last month the Center for American Progress (CAP) examined federal investment in transportation infrastructure through MAP-21. CAP’s analysis found that, although the bill ended so-called “earmarks” in transportation funding, it still drives about $10 billion of federal highway and transit funds to states based on political objectives rather than on the need for road, bridge or transit repairs. Titled, “Highway Robbery,” the CAP report claims that $10 billion out of $43 billion in federal highway funds was “distributed in equity bonuses and minimum payments to states that could not demonstrate sufficient need through the traditional needs-based funding formulas.”

Execs: Build public-private partnerships

From the private sector came CG/LA US Infrastructure Inc.’s Priorities Survey 2012, which asked more than 100 high-ranking executives active in the infrastructure industry to prioritize ways to increase infrastructure investment. Among respondents, 93 percent said they believed the United States lacks an overall infrastructure plan. Respondents identified “building public-private partnerships” as the most important U.S. action for boosting investment; other responses included raising gas taxes and the creation of a national infrastructure bank.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.