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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

House bill would allow states to count fed loans toward infrastructure financing share


U.S. Rep. Tom Malinowski (D-N.J.) has introduced a bill that aims to make it easier for states to finance their share of infrastructure projects, such as the multibilliion-dollar Gateway program that calls for construction of new Amtrak tunnels under the Hudson River between New York and New Jersey.

The Transportation Funding Fairness Act of 2019 (TFFA) would allow states to attribute federal Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) and Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) loans to their share of jointly funded large-scale infrastructure projects. Currently, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) takes the position that those loans may not be counted as part of states' share of infrastructure financing, according to a press release issued by Malinowski's office.

The TFFA would clarify that states may use such loans to help meet their obligations, Malinowski said.

"The TFFA will clear one of the obstacles the administration has placed in the path of building Gateway and other similar projects around the country," he said. "Funding for infrastructure is one issue on which I think the Congress can make progress this year, and this bill can be an important part of that effort."

The TFFA would eliminate the FTA's newly assumed discretionary authority to declare TIFIA and RRIF loans as the federal share of an infrastructure project by:

• changing 23 U.S. Code 603 to say that states or other obligators may determine transportation loans as the federal or non-federal share of a project; and

• insert language into certain U.S. code explicitly stating that the determination of where loans fall in federal/non-federal share of a project is determined in amended U.S. code.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 1/31/2019