Friday, July 06, 2012

OneRail Coalition eager to work with Congress on further improvements

The OneRail Coalition, a diverse group of rail stakeholders, issued a statement congratulating both parties and the House and the Senate for working together to advance transportation reauthorization legislation, which saves and creates millions of jobs by maintaining federal transportation spending at current levels.

OneRail Coalition notes that the agreement provides certainty for transportation planners by setting policy and funding levels for 27 months. In addition, the bill properly maintains the historic funding allocation between highway and transit programs.

In the statement, OneRail said, "The final agreement moves the country forward and provides a necessary step in a long-term process. The bill includes several items that the OneRail Coalition has advocated for:

• continues the focus on safety by maintaining dedicated funding for the Section 130 rail-highway grade crossing safety program,

• authorizes funding for the merit-based Projects of National & Regional Significance (PNRS) program,

• continues to make operating intercity passenger rail service an eligible use of CMAQ funding, and

• helps leverage transportation dollars more efficiently by expanding and enhancing the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (TIFIA) program.

"The OneRail Coalition is disappointed the final agreement did not include several rail provisions such as the ability for State DOTs to flex funding for freight rail projects when that is the most efficient option, rail planning provisions, and restoration of tax parity for parking and transit commuter benefits.

"As the next major pieces of surface transportation legislation are developed, the OneRail Coalition looks forward to working with Congress to ensure that rail issues and the long-term funding challenge are addressed. America needs to continue to advance an efficient, multi-modal freight and passenger transportation network with robust public and private funding.

"OneRail believes that public and private investments in rail infrastructure and operations will create and maintain good domestic jobs, enhance productivity and the competitive position of the United States in the world economy, spur both near-term economic recovery and long-term prosperity, relieve road and air congestion, protect the environment, reduce our exposure to volatile gasoline prices and our dependence on imported oil, and contribute positively to public health and well-being."

OneRail includes the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), American Short Line and Regional Railroad Association (ASLRRA), Amtrak, Association of American Railroads (AAR), Brotherhood of Railroad Signalmen (BRS), National Association of Railroad Passengers (NARP), Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC), Railway Supply Institute (RSI), States for Passenger Rail Coalition (S4PRC), Surface Transportation Policy Partnership (STPP), Sheet Metal Workers International Association (SMWIA), Transportation Communications International Union/International Association of Machinists (TCU/IAM) and the United Transportation Union (UTU).

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