Railroad infrastructure bill arrives in Senate
New legislation introduced this week in the U.S. Senate would provide $42 billion in rail infrastructure investments over six years. The American Railroad Revitalization, Investment and Enhancement Act, or ARRIVE 21, is designed to promote improvements to the passenger and freight rail systems.
The bill’s sponsors — Sens. Ernest Hollings, D-S.C.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Tom Carper, D-Del.; Arlen Spector, R-Penn.; Jim Jeffords, I-Vt.; and Joseph Biden, D-Del. — said the legislation provides a guaranteed funding source to help reduce traffic congestion and improve the movement of freight.
Sponsors said the dedicated funding mechanism would be similar to those used in the aviation and highway modes, in which user fees go into a trust fund to pay for infrastructure improvements. Details about where the money would come from are not available because the original bill has not been published yet.
ARRIVE 21 creates a non-profit, public-private partnership — the Rail Infrastructure Finance Corp. (RIFCO) — to issue $30 billion in tax-credit bonds to fund rail infrastructure development. RIFCO also will award grants to states for freight rail capital projects that benefit the public, including rail line rehabilitation and upgrades, rail safety and security projects, and development of intermodal facilities. Under the funding formula, states must contribute a 20-percent match for each project, similar to what is required for other transportation investments.
The measure also directs the federal government to develop a national rail plan and a 50-year intermodal blueprint.
It likely will be considered for inclusion in the reauthorization for TEA-21, the long-term surface transportation-spending plan currently being crafted in Congress.