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Congress Reaches Deal on 5 Year Transportation Bill

December 02, 2015

Tuesday afternoon brought news from Congress as the Conference Committee reached a deal on the long-term Highway and Surface Transportation Bill.

Now that the bill has been finalized, it is expected to move through the House and Senate by the end of the week. However, if the bill does not reach President Obama’s desk before the Dec. 4 deadline, a short-term patch will be necessary.

The bill will provide $305 billion in funding for the next five years. Approximately $70 billion has been taken from general revenue to help fund this bill because Congress has refused to raise the gas tax. The $70 billion can be used for various projects such as roads, public transit, and bike paths but is unavailable to fund intercity passenger or high-speed rail.

The bill authorizes $10.4 billion for intercity passenger rail but does not appropriate any funds. This is the first time that a passenger rail title has been included in a comprehensive surface transportation bill — it's a big step forward. It lays out separate authorization for the Northeast Corridor at $2.6 billion and the National Network at $5.5 billion but actual appropriation of the funds through separate sources will need to be pursued.

The requirement to eliminate Amtrak’s food and beverage deficit has gained a lot of attention but the language in the bill allows Amtrak to allocate a portion of their ticket towards food which will offset the cost. On another positive note it would appropriate another $200 million for PTC implementation on commuter railways.

While we celebrate this important milestone it is important to note that this bill has direct appropriations for highways and transit, but only authorizations for intercity passenger rail. We still have our work cut out for us to ensure that Congress appropriates the funds.


Dylan Hayward
Communications Manager


This year was a huge success! We raised over $1,000 and are happy to welcome 8 new members. A special thanks to all our supporters who donated or shared our content on Giving Tuesday.

Articles We Enjoyed:

Dem Senator slams “irresponsible’ $305B highway bill
"Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) criticized a $305 billion highway bill that was announced by lawmakers on Tuesday because it does not raise gas taxes to help pay for transportation projects."

Twenty-five gorgeous but non-famous US train stations
"Here are 25 gorgeous train stations from around the US that you may not have seen before."

Eurostar e320 enters service
“The first of Eurostar’s 17 Siemens-built Velaro e320 trainsets began operating in limited commercial service on November 20.”

Ann Arbor to Traverse City train discussion stops in Mount Pleasant
“The discussion about passenger train service from Ann Arbor to Traverse City, making a stop in Mount Pleasant”

Let Me Finish: The stuff dreams are made of
Chris Matthews finishes up the show with the stuff dreams are made of…a 21st century train ride across America.

Upcoming Events:

Future Amtrak Service Meeting
Come voice your opinion on how the Wolverine Corridor should be developed at this public meeting.

December 2 starting at 7pm
Niles District Library 620 E Main, Niles, MI 49120

When Trails Are Transformative

We'd like make sure you are aware of the special DePaul University event featuring the "The 606" and other prominent rail-trails. The keynote is Paul Morris of the Atlanta
Beltline, a set of multi-use trails and transit services along a historic 22-mile railroad corridor circling Atlanta.

Thursday December 3 from 9 - 11:30 a.m
14 E. Jackson, Room 8006, Depaul Univ.
The cost is $45 which includes breakfast.
Questions? email Joe Schwieterman, the MHSRA board member, at


Click Here for additional info.

Japan High-Speed Rail Tour

This trip will give everyone an opportunity to enjoy the rich history of train travel the country offers. We are creating an itinerary that includes riding the first high-speed rail line, visiting at least one railroad museum and meetings with experts in the field. We have already begun making contacts to arrange technical visits and train tours. We have received enough interest to begin finalizing the details of the trip.

Please click here if you would like to learn more or are interested in joining the trip.

Please click here if you are ready to make a $500 fully-refundable deposit for the trip.

Dylan Hayward
Midwest High Speed Rail Association
4765 N. Lincoln Ave.
Chicago, IL 60625