"This bill will put Americans back to work rebuilding our roads and bridges and developing new sources of low cost energy," Committee Chairman John Mica (R-FL) said. "This legislation may be the most important jobs measure to pass Congress this year.
"The American Energy & Infrastructure Jobs Act is the largest transportation reform bill since the creation of the Interstate Highway System in 1956," Mica continued. "This is a five-year bill that reforms our federal transportation programs, cuts the red tape and bureaucracy that delays projects across the country, gives states more flexibility to determine their most critical infrastructure needs, provides states with the long-term stability to undertake major improvements and encourages private sector participation in helping to finance transportation projects."
The committee is scheduled to begin consideration of the transportation reauthorization portion of the American Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, February 2, 2012. Legislative text will be available at www.transportation.house.gov.
The bill aims to streamline the project delivery process, reduce regulatory burdens and promote accountability and responsibility while maintaining the highest commitment to rail safety.
According to the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, the bill will do this by providing more flexible loan terms to the Rail Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing loans, increasing access to the RRIF program and creating a faster and more predictable application process.
States would be given more decision making power and the deadline for implementation of Positive Train Control (PTC) would be chanced to Dec. 31, 2020.
The bill would place limits on Amtrak's use of federal funds to focus it on providing better service and cut operating subsidies by 25 percent in FY 2012 and 2013.
Additionally, it would require Amtrak's food and beverage services to be competitively bid.
The bill is said to eliminate congestion grants set aside in the Intercity Passenger Rail grants program and would terminate the Capital Grants program for Class 2 and Class 3 railroads, authorized at $50 million per year.
The bill also revises federal transit policies and programs and would encourage public-private partnerships when building new rail transit systems. The proposal also focuses available funding on formula programs that provide stable and predictable funding to states and local transit agencies, which would increase the percentage of available formula funds for transit programs that benefit suburban and rural areas and programs that support transit services for the elderly, disabled and transit-dependent.
The changes would consolidate and simplify human service transportation programs from three separate programs to one and would streamline the New Starts and Small Starts competitive grant program.