Friday, April 20, 2012

Senate Appropriations Committee transport bill includes money for HART, Gateway Tunnel

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The Senate Committee on Appropriations approved the Fiscal Year 2013 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations bill by a vote of 28-1. The measure will now be reported to the full Senate for its consideration.

The bill plans for a proposed budget authority of $53.4 billion, $3.9 billion less than the 2012 enacted level. The total funding level is $3.8 billion or 3.5 percent below the equivalent 2012 enacted level.

Funding would give $500 million for TIGER grants to support significant transportation projects in a wide variety of modes, including highways and bridges, public transportation, passenger and freight railroads and port infrastructure. The bill requires the secretary to allocate no less than $120 million for projects in rural communities. The funding level included in the bill is equal to the fiscal year 2012 enacted level.

Funding would also include $1.75 billion for rail infrastructure, of which $1.45 billion is for Amtrak. Of the total amount provided, $100 million is for the High Performance Passenger Rail grant program to assist states with the improvement of existing intercity services, congestion mitigation and multi-state planning initiatives. The funding level is $126 million more than the fiscal year 2012 enacted level.

Additionally, transit investments would receive $2.044 billion, $89 million above the fiscal year 2012 enacted level, for the transit "New Starts" program. This funding supports projects across the Nation that will provide new or expanded public transportation services.

The bill would provide $250 million for the Honolulu Rail Transit project and $20 million for Amtrak's continued work on the Gateway Tunnel project.

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