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12/5/2003



Rail News: Rail Industry Trends

Small roads' tax-credit bill tacks on congressional supporters, ASLRRA says


The Local Railroad Rehabilitation and Investment Act of 2003 (H.R. 876/S. 1703) continues to gain congressional support. The short-line tax-credit bill now has 235 co-sponsors in the House, according to American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association's (ASLRRA) bi-weekly newsletter.

Only 26 of the 3,650 bills pending in the House have garnered more co-sponsors, ASLRRA said. H.R. 876's chief sponsors are Reps. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Dave Camp (R-Mich.).

The legislation first must be approved by the House Ways & Means Committee, whose 41 members include 20 sponsors of H.R. 876 — one shy of a majority.

"Ending the year with a majority of the House as co-sponsors is a significant milestone for this legislation," said ASLRRA President Richard Timmons. "While there is still much work to be done, this level of support is a strong indication that Congress wants to keep rural America connected to the national railroad network."

The bill would amend the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to provide short lines and regionals an income tax credit for track maintenance expenditures — funds many roads need to address 286,000-pound-car-related infrastructure shortcomings.

Tax credits would be capped at $10,000 for every track mile regionals and short lines own or lease, and small roads would be able to transfer credits they can't use to other roads, shippers, suppliers or contractors. Credits would be issued against qualified track maintenance expenditures (such as maintaining or upgrading track, roadbed, bridges and related structures) that small roads pay or incur before Jan. 1, 2009.

ASLRRA is completing a national short-line data survey designed to demonstrate the importance of small roads to the nation's transportation system.

"Among other things, the data will show a significant decrease in the reliance on trucks in favor of short-line railroads," said Timmons.


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