Sens. Lautenberg and Rockefeller introduce transportation investment bill

Written by Jenifer Nunez, assistant editor
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U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ), chairman of the Commerce Subcommittee on Surface Transportation, and Merchant Marine Infrastructure, Safety and Security and Commerce Committee Chairman John Rockefeller IV (D-WV) introduced legislation

that they say would leverage federal investment to rebuild and expand transportation infrastructure and create American jobs called the American Infrastructure Investment Fund Act of 2013. The bill would establish a $5-billion fund that would incentivize private, state and regional investments in transportation projects around the country by providing eligible products with financial assistance.

“Investing in our nation’s roads, rails and runways will get people back to work, while spurring economic development and productivity. This bill would establish a creative new way to leverage federal funding and increase investment in projects that will expand rail capacity, like the Gateway Tunnel and projects that will modernize our ports and other infrastructure to meet the growing demands of the 21st Century,” said Sen. Lautenberg. “The national Infrastructure Investment Fund created in this bill would supplement federal dollars with private investment to prioritize the large-scale transportation projects that will help our country and economy thrive. If we want to leave our children and grandchildren a better country, we must make these smart investments on their behalf now.”

Rockefeller said, “Right now, millions of dollars in private capital are parked on the sidelines. We need to leverage federal dollars through the infrastructure fund our bill creates to encourage private investment and fully meet our infrastructure needs. A strong transportation system promotes economic success and creates American jobs. I know several other senators are interested in this issue and I have every intention of working with my colleagues as we move forward to develop a robust approach to maximizing the return on our public and private investments.”

The American Infrastructure Investment Fund Act of 2013 would:

· Establish within the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) a fund designed to leverage federal dollars to incentivize private investment in transportation projects that maintain American economic competitiveness, which would be authorized at $5 billion for fiscal years 2014 and 2015.

· Use a variety of tools, such as loans and loan guarantees, to provide financial assistance to eligible projects that would be evaluated in an objective and transparent manner to encourage private, state, regional and local entities to make capital investments into these critical projects.

· Define eligible types of projects including rail lines, marine ports, pipelines, airports, highways, bridges, public transportation systems and other transportation-related projects. The fund would be designed to allow it to broaden its investment portfolio in the future into other infrastructure projects, including telecommunications, energy and water projects.

· Authorize a multimodal National Infrastructure Investment Grant program within USDOT at $600 million for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, which would provide funds to build new or improve existing transportation infrastructure.

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