January 19, 2009
Stimulus Package Unveiled
The $825 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, released yesterday by House Democrats, includes $9 billion for public transportation projects and $1.1 billion for Amtrak and high speed rail ready-to-go projects.
The bill includes $90 billion for infrastructure improvement projects. Of that, $30 billion would be allocated for highway projects, $10 billion for rail and mass transit projects, and $1.1 billion to improve the speed and capacity of intercity passenger rail service.
Rep. Dave Obey, (D-WI), chair of the House Appropriations Committee, called the package “the first crucial step in a concerted effort to create and save 3 to 4 million jobs, jumpstart our economy and begin the process of transforming it for the 21st century.” Democrats hope to approve the package by February and then send it to the Senate, in hopes that it will arrive on the new president’s desk by Presidents’ Day, February 16.
In a press release from Obey's office, the portion allocated to public transit would break down as follows:
New Construction: $1 billion for Capital Investment Grants for new commuter rail or other light rail systems to increase public use of mass transit and to speed projects already in construction. The Federal Transit Administration has $2.4 billion in pre-approved projects.
Upgrades and Repair: $2 billion to modernize existing transit systems, including renovations to stations, security systems, computers, equipment, structures, signals, and communications. Funds will be distributed through the existing formula. The repair backlog is nearly $50 billion.
Transit Capital Assistance: $6 billion to purchase buses and equipment needed to increase public transportation and improve intermodal and transit facilities. The Department of Transportation estimates a $3.2 billion maintenance backlog and $9.2 billion in needed improvements. The American Public Transportation Association identified 787 ready-to-go transit projects totaling $15.5 billion. Funds will be distributed through the existing formulas.
Amtrak and Intercity Passenger Rail Construction Grants: $1.1 billion to improve the speed and capacity of intercity passenger rail service. The Department of Transportation’s Inspector General estimates the North East Corridor alone has a backlog of over $10 billion.