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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

AAR, rail groups hail potential impact of new infrastructure funding law

President Biden signed the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act during a White House ceremony held yesterday.
Photo – White House/Facebook


President Joe Biden's signature on the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) marks a "long-overdue step" toward a more competitive and prosperous economic future, the Association of American Railroads (AAR) announced yesterday.

The legislation includes nearly $845 million per year for highway-rail grade crossing safety and elimination projects and an average of $5.55 billion per year for discretionary infrastructure grant programs, such as $1 billion per year for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grant program, which provides essential support to short line and passenger railroads as well as state departments of transportation, AAR officials said in a press release.

The bill also contains significant funding for research, development and demonstration projects that will play an important role in creating and further refining technologies that will help railroads to continue reducing their greenhouse gas emissions and further address climate change, they said.

"Prioritizing investments and commonsense policy solutions were the result of thoughtful, bipartisan negotiations and the tireless work of many," said AAR President and CEO Ian Jefferies. "As we collectively face today’s challenges and build tomorrow’s opportunities, this package will help pave the way for a more modern, safer and resilient infrastructure network.”

Other rail and transportation organizations also reacted to the new IIJA, which Biden signed during a ceremony held yesterday at the White House. Following are statements from a few of them.

"For 50 years, the nation has been waiting for the federal government to provide Amtrak with the resources we need to fully deliver on our mission to serve the American people. The bipartisan infrastructure deal fulfills this promise and we are ready to start rebuilding and expanding passenger rail to meet the service demands and sustainable transportation goals of the future." — Amtrak Chair Tony Coscia

"State departments of transportation applaud Congress and the president for getting this important piece of legislation to the finish line, as it provides historic funding increases for federal highway, transit, highway safety and rail programs and directly addresses equity, climate change, system resiliency, bridge investment and project delivery and environmental review processes." — American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Executive Director Jim Tymon

"President Joe Biden signed into law [yesterday] the largest infrastructure bill in recent history, making available new funding to connect the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama to the national passenger rail network and potentially offering significant funding for launching passenger service between city pairs such as Baton Rouge to New Orleans, Meridian to Dallas and New Orleans to Mobile." — Southern Rail Commission

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More News from 11/16/2021