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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Congress passes surface transportation bill

Today, the House and Senate passed a major, two-year surface transportation reauthorization bill (H.R. 4348).

The bill now is on its way to President Obama for his signature.

“This measure includes historic reforms — cutting red tape and consolidating or eliminating nearly 70 federal programs,” said Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, in a prepared statement.

The bipartisan legislation would fund federal highway, transit and safety programs at current funding levels through the end of fiscal-year 2014, which would allow states to plan and undertake transportation projects.

It does not, however, include funds for high-speed intercity passenger-rail projects, according to a statement issued by the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. In addition, the bill includes an amendment proposed by Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) that would prohibit funds in the bill from being used in California or the California High-Speed Rail Authority. So, the state would be unable to apply for any rail grants included in the final bill, such as Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery funds. 

The new bill is the first major surface transportation law approved by Congress since the SAFETEA-LU Act of 2005 expired in 2009. The latest extension to SAFETEA-LU expires tomorrow.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 6/29/2012