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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Senate passes $109 billion surface transportation bill


Yesterday, the U.S. Senate passed the two-year, $109 billion surface transportation funding bill known as the "Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act" (MAP-21) in a bipartisan 74-22 vote. The bill did not include dedicated dollars for high-speed rail.

“It is a great day when the Senate, in an overwhelming bipartisan way, votes to save 1.8 million jobs and create up to 1 million more jobs,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.), chairwoman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, who developed the bill along with Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), in a prepared statement. “I call on the House of Representatives to take our bill, pass it and send it to the president’s desk so that we can give a needed boost to our economic recovery and our aging infrastructure.”

According to Sen. Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), MAP-21 includes the Focusing Resources, Economic Investment and Guidance to Help Transportation (FREIGHT) Act, which would foster the creation of a national, multi-modal freight program; and the National Rail System Preservation, Expansion and Development Act, which would require the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop a long-range national plan to further develop high-speed and intercity passenger-rail transportation — including measures to strengthen Amtrak and improve the Northeast Corridor — and advance freight-rail transportation.

The House has not yet acted on its five-year, $260 billion transportation funding measure. Earlier this month, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said consideration of the Senate bill in the House would be an option.

“We are eager to see both chambers move forward on surface transportation authorization bills,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) officials in a prepared statement. “The strong bipartisan vote in favor of passage of the Senate bill provides continued momentum behind efforts to see a bill enacted this year.”

Under the eighth extension of SAFETEA-LU, federal support for surface transportation funding will expire March 31.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/15/2012