Media Kit » Try RailPrime™ Today! »
Progressive Railroading
Newsletter Sign Up
Stay updated on news, articles and information for the rail industry

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

View Current Digital Issue »


Rail News Home MOW

April 2022

Rail News: MOW

NRC chairman’s column: New infrastructure law tees up tremendous opportunities


“Historic” and “landmark” are a couple of the terms railway insiders are using to describe the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) passed by Congress and signed into law by President Biden last November. I can sum up the impact for railway contractors and suppliers in two words: Tremendous opportunities. 

IIJA will generate $1.2 trillion of investment into U.S. roads, bridges, waterways, airports, rail and transit systems, and other infrastructure, and will reauthorize surface transportation programs for the next five years. That includes $66 billion for railways, which breaks down to $36 billion for Federal-State Partnership for Intercity Passenger Rail Grants, $16 billion for the Amtrak network, $6 billion for the Amtrak Northeast Corridor and $3 billion for the new FRA rail crossing elimination program. It also contains $39 billion for public transit and $17 billion for ports and waterways. 

The law also provides for a record increase in discretionary funding — an average of $5.55 billion per year — for vital rail grant programs, specifically FRA Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements grants and USDOT Infrastructure for Rebuilding American, and Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity grants, previously known as BUILD and TIGER grants.  

For NRC members, the IIJA investment presents tremendous opportunities. Funds will begin flowing to new projects in about a year. And thanks to NRC-supported provisions in IIJA that will speed up the permitting process for projects, work will get under way sooner rather than later.  

But it’s important to note IIJA’s railway components were not created in a vacuum. They are the result of years of relationship-building with members of Congress and their staffs, with key government officials and regulators, with rail infrastructure owners, and with other industry influencers. 

I’ve spent days walking the halls of Congress during Railroad Day on Capitol Hill and realize the importance of those congressional meetings. They help us convey why our industry is so important for the future of our country. This year’s event was held virtually on March 9-10. This event — along with other NRC-sponsored advocacy initiatives — is similar to building relationships in business over time with your customers. They allow us to share our stories, establish credibility and build strong relationships in the political arena. 

The NRC’s legislative team and Policy and Legislative Committee — currently chaired by TranSystems’ Freight Business Leader Kevin Hicks — leveraged those relationships and were actively engaged in influencing IIJA throughout the legislative process. The NRC, along with more than 100 other business organizations, supported historic, bipartisan infrastructure investment. Due to our years of prior advocacy work, the NRC and the rail industry at large were well positioned to advocate for IIJA and specific areas that would produce the most positive outcomes. 

Our work doesn’t stop with IIJA. We must continue to grow these relationships and forge new ones. In addition to Railroad Day, take advantage of the NRC grassroots program. Let them see our work firsthand and better understand the value of investing in railway infrastructure. All of these activities point to the value of NRC membership and the importance of continuing to share our compelling story. 

Be sure to check out the IIJA Resource page on the NRC’s website along with other ways to get involved in advocacy opportunities.

Steve Bolte, NRC chairman
The National Railroad Construction &
Maintenance Association Inc.
80 M Street, S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003
202-715-2920 •

Related Topics: