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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Obama unveils plan to create 'Transportation Investment Center'


Continuing his push for federal investments to improve the nation's infrastructure, President Obama yesterday announced a new executive action to create the Build American Investment Initiative, which will include a Transportation Investment Center to help cities and states seek more innovative financing and partnerships with the private sector to pursue transportation infrastructure projects.

The president announced the initiative as part of his effort to increase infrastructure investment and economic growth, according to a press release issued by the White House. The Transportation Investment Center will be housed at the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) and will serve as a "one-stop shop" for state and local governments, public and private developers, and investors seeking to utilize innovative finning strategies for transportation infrastructure projects.
The center will provide:

• a "navigator service" for the public and private sectors. The center will make USDOT credit programs more understandable and accessible to states and local governments and leverage both public and private funding to support ambitious projects.  The center will also provide private sector developers and infrastructure investors with tools and resources to identify and execute successful public-private partnerships.
• technical assistance. The center will share best practices from states that are leading the way on private investment to states that have not yet adopted innovative financing strategies, encouraging a more robust national market.
• information to reduce uncertainty and delays. The center will work in partnership with the interagency Infrastructure Permitting Improvement center to provide visibility for local and state governments, project sponsors and investors on the permitting process.

The broader Build America Investment Initiative also will include a Build America Interagency Working Group aimed at expanding and increasing private investment in transportation by removing barriers to such investment.

Obama's announcement is part of his emphasis on the need for long-term investment in the nation's transportation infrastructure. Although the president has indicated support for a short-term fix to the nation's Highway Trust Fund currently working its way through Congress, Obama has urged a more permanent solution to funding the nation's surface transportation infrastructure needs.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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