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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

ASLRRA backs Senate Commerce Committee’s surface transportation bill


The American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA) is endorsing a surface transportation bill introduced yesterday by the Senate Commerce Committee.

The “Surface Transportation Investment Act” would provide multiple competitive funding and financing opportunities for short lines and their partners though improvements to several grant programs, said ASLRRA President Chuck Baker in a press release. Those programs include the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) program; the RAISE/BUILD/TIGER, identified in the bill as the Local and Regional Project Assistance program; the INFRA/Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight Projects program; the Railroad Crossing Elimination program; and the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) Loan.

The bill was introduced by Commerce Committee Chair Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and Ranking Member Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).

“The proposed legislation recognizes and supports the key role that short lines can play in helping to grow the economy in every part of America, creating and sustaining career jobs at railroads and rail shippers alike, protecting the environment, improving transportation safety, and reducing the burden of heavy freight on overcrowded and expensive-to-maintain highways,” said Baker.

Meanwhile, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee yesterday passed out of committee its five-year, $547 billion surface transportation bill known as the INVEST in America Act (H.R. 3684). 

The act, which passed out of committee on a 38-26 vote, directs federal investments in roads, bridges, transit and rail. The bill includes $109 billion for transit, $95 for passenger and freight rail and $343 billion for roads, bridges and safety.

“I commend my colleagues for their hard work helping craft these two bills to deliver what Americans expect and deserve: safe roads and bridges, reliable transit options and a robust passenger-rail network,” said T&I Chair Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.).

However, T&I Committee Ranking Member Sam Graves (R-Mo.) criticized the process for being partisan and noted that several amendments put forth by Republican committee members were not adopted. 

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/11/2021