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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

Surface transportation reauthorization bill awaits President Obama's signature


Over the weekend, public transportation industry representatives continued to express sighs of relief now that Congress has passed a major surface transportation reauthorization bill, ending a three-year run of short-term extensions to the SAFETEA-LU law.

Titled “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century” (MAP21), the new bill provides $105 billion for the nation’s surface transportation programs over two years, and continues the current level of funding plus inflation through fiscal-year 2014.

The legislative package also includes provisions related to student loans and flood insurance. The House and Senate passed the legislation on Friday; the bill now goes to President Obama, who is expected to sign it.

“This is a good, bipartisan bill that will create job, strengthen our transportation system and grow our economy,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a prepared statement. “It builds on our aggressive safety efforts, including our fight against distracted riving and our push to improve transit and motor carrier safety. The bill also provides states and communities wit two years of steady funding to build the roads, bridges and transit systems they need.”

MAP21 includes a limited increase for federal transit programs, providing $10.6 billion in authorized funding in FY2013 and $10.7 billion in authorized funding in FY2014, according to the American Public Transportation Association’s (APTA) summary of the legislation.

In addition, funding authorized from the Mass Transit Account will total about $8.5 billion in FY2013 and $8.6 billion in FY2014, with $2.1 billion authorized from the genera fund in each fiscal year, APTA officials said. Separately, the bill also extends authorizations for FY2012 based on the current law.

“This new bill will provide for a greater degree of certainty for public transit agencies and private sector businesses as they maintain, plan and implement public transportation projects,” said APTA President and Chief Executive Officer Michael Melaniphy in a prepared statement. “It includes improvements to keep our systems in a state of good repair; streamlines delivery of public transit projects; [and] provides funding for new start projects.”

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 7/2/2012