Big investments in rail move closer to reality as House passes infrastructure bill
A sweeping, $1.5 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the U.S. House yesterday calls for big investments in rail, transit, and other transportation systems.
The Moving Forward Act would create a $19 billion grant program to fund capital projects that expand intercity or enhance passenger rail systems. Priority would be given to projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, fit into a regional plan, or have a multi-state base of support. High-speed trains are eligible for the grants.
The bill would also reauthorize a grant program (CRISI) that funds freight and passenger rail projects. The proposed $7 billion in funding for the program over 5 years would quintuple the levels of the current FAST Act, which is up for reauthorization this fall.
Amtrak’s authorization would triple, to $29 billion, and local transit systems would receive $100 billion.
The bill harmonizes with the goals and broad strategy of Solving the Climate Crisis, a 500-page document published by House Democrats in late June. It outlines a sweeping vision for cutting carbon emissions across all sectors of the economy and calls for the U.S. to ramp up its carbon-reduction efforts. It points out, for example, that Germany has recently decided to make massive investments in rail—$86 billion over the next decade—while Amtrak’s “state of good repair” backlog now exceeds $33 billion.
The Moving Forward Act has very different spending priorities than anything the Senate might pass, but the legislation affirms that investments in rail are a high priority for many members of Congress. That will be critically important as lawmakers debate the Fast Act reauthorization this fall. Sign the Alliance’s petition here.
There is also broad, bi-partisan consensus for a new coronavirus stimulus package that’s likely to include new spending on infrastructure programs, since President Trump has called for $2 trillion in new infrastructure spending. Members of Congress have offered few details on the actual priorities or substance of the package so far. They aim to begin debate in late July.