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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Obama's newly minted 'Rebuild America Partnership' plan would provide $4 billion for TIGER, TIFIA programs

President Barack Obama on Friday unveiled a "Rebuild America Partnership" plan, which aims to bolster the nation's transportation infrastructure by encouraging private investments and providing $14 billion for transportation projects.

Since he took office four years ago, more than 350,000 miles of U.S. roads, 6,000 miles of rail and 20,000 bridges have been repaired or replaced, "but there's more to do and taxpayers shouldn't have to shoulder the entire burden themselves," Obama said in a press release.

The plan calls for partnering with the private sector to fund projects. To do so, Obama is calling on Congress to enact a National Infrastructure Bank capitalized with $10 billion to leverage private and public capital, and to invest in a broad range of infrastructure projects "without earmarks or political influence."

"In addition, the Administration is proposing changes to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act aimed at enhancing the attractiveness of investment in U.S. infrastructure and real estate to a broader universe of private investors," said Obama.

The plan also would provide state and local governments access to a new America Fast Forward Bonds program that would build upon the successful example of the Build America Bonds program and broaden its use to include the types of projects that can be financed with qualified private activity bonds, he said.

Moreover, the plan would provide $4 billion in new competitive funding for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) and Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) programs in 2014 in addition to a recent eight-fold increase in TIFIA funding to $1 billion via the MAP-21 surface transportation reauthorization bill.

"Over the past 13 years, TIFIA has entered into 27 loan agreements worth $10.4 billion, resulting in more than $41 billion in total project investment," said Obama. "The additional [TIGER] investment would make new grant and loan funding available for states and localities across the country, giving them both a new source of financing and the flexibility to design projects and financing packages to meet their needs."

Building America's Future officials hailed the plan, including the $14 billion proposed for a National Infrastructure Bank and the TIGER/TIFIA programs.

"[We] support creating a National Infrastructure Bank to better leverage investments, as well as encourage public-private partnerships," said Ed Rendell, the former Pennsylvania governor who co-chairs Building America's Future, in a prepared statement. "I applaud his plan, but we all know our national infrastructure is in such poor shape that we will need even further investment for decades to come."

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More News from 4/1/2013