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Identical small-road track improvement bill in Senate


Sen. John Breaux, D-La., July 23 introduced The Railroad Track Modernization Act of 2001 to the Senate as S. 1220, according to American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association.
Bill co-sponsors include Breaux, chairman of Senate Commerce Committee's Surface Transportation Subcommittee; Sen. Gordon Smith, R-Ore., subcommittee ranking member; and senators Dick Durbin, D-Ill., Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Arlen Specter, R-Pa.
S. 1220 is identical to H.R. 1020, the bill introduced in March to the House and recently approved by Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. The bills would authorize capital-grant appropriations of $350 million each year for three years to Class II and III railroads to be used to rehabilitate, preserve or improve track.
The grants are designed to enable regionals and short lines to beef up infrastructure to better handle 286,000-pound cars.
If approved, small roads could count on applying for grants — courtesy of S. 1220/H.R. 1020 — in addition to funds available from Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing (RRIF) program, which provides $1 billion in federal loans to regionals and short lines for equipment purchases, debt retirements or 286k-related track improvements. I&M Rail Link recently received a Federal Railroad Administration-approved $100 million RRIF loan from U.S. Department of Transportation, designated to help the 1,385-mile regional recapitalize and invest needed funds in infrastructure improvements.

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More News from 7/30/2001