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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

ASLRRA 'pleased' with rail funding levels in appropriations bill


The House Appropriations Committee yesterday passed a bill that contains encouraging funding levels for infrastructure programs that would help short lines and regionals, according to the American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA).

The fiscal-year 2021 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies (T-HUD) legislation funds the U.S. Department of Transportation, the Department of Housing and Urban Development and other related agencies.

"An encouraging spirit of bipartisan cooperation was evident in the crafting and consideration of this bill," said ASLRRA President Chuck Baker. "As a result, this bill provides a framework for future consensus legislation that can be signed into law."

ASLRRA officials are "pleased" that the legislation includes "robust" funding levels for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) and Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) grant programs, as well as for the Short Line Safety Institute's activities, Baker said.

"Beyond the regular FY21 appropriations, we are encouraged that the committee included additional CRISI funding for rail as part of the effort to jump-start the economy, acknowledging the role short-line freight railroads can play in an economic recovery," said Baker. "Since inception, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, short lines have used the CRISI grant program to improve rail safety and efficiency, supporting railroad and supplier jobs in communities across the country." 

The bill calls for $158.3 billion in base budgetary resources, according to a press release issued by Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.). The legislation includes $75.9 billion in discretionary funding, an increase of $1.7 billion above the FY2020 enacted level and $16.8 billion above President Trump's 2021 budget request. Consistent with the Democrats' INVEST in America surface transportation legislation, the bill includes budgetary resources for surface transportation programs totaling $78.7 billion.

In addition, the legislation provides $75 billion to support the economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic by investing in transportation and housing infrastructure.

The bill report can be read here.