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2/12/2009



Rail News: Passenger Rail

USDOT: Accountability will be top priority in economic stimulus bill


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Yesterday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood met with leaders of state departments of transportation in preparation of the final passage of the economic recovery bill.

LaHood's top priority will be accountability, and the newly implemented Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recover (TIGER) team will closely monitor all aspects of the recovery funding, he said. Comprising officials from across the U.S. Department of Transportation's operating administrations and offices, the TIGER team is co-chaired by Deputy Assistant Secretary for Budget and Programs Lana Hurdle and Deputy Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy Joel Szabat.

"We have thousands of worthwhile transportation projects that are ready to go. They've cleared all the hurdles and just need funding," said LaHood in a prepared statement. "The U.S. Department of Transportation is ready to get money out the door. We now need Congress to pass a final bill."

A House-Senate conference committee is working to resolve the differences between their two economic recovery bills. The House version includes $47 billion for transportation, including $27 billion for highways and bridges, $12 billion for mass transit and rail projects, and $300 million for high-speed and intercity passenger-rail projects. The Senate version includes $8.4 billion for transit urban and rural formula programs, $2 billion for high-speed rail corridor investments, and $1.1 billion for Amtrak and intercity passenger rail grants. The legislation also proposes $5.5 billion for a new intermodal discretionary program that can be used for highway, bridge, public transportation, passenger- and freight-rail, and port infrastructure projects.

The House and Senate have come to a consensus on a $789 billion bill and expect to vote on it before week's end, according to several newspaper reports.


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