Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic outlines the impact of Obama’s proposed budget for 2012. According to the Federal Department of Transportation Fact Sheet, the budget includes key highlights for rail spending:
- $53B for High Speed Rail over six years, including $8B in FY 2012
- A $30B National Infrastructure Bank to provide loans and grants for infrastructure projects (which could stimulate public-private partnerships)
- A “Fix-It-First” policy for highway and transit grants, which could curtail highway expansion programs.
- A six-year, $556B surface transportation legislation (replacing the now expired SAFETEA-LU).
The last point — the surface transportation legislation — will include critical funding programs and criteria that will determine how much money is available for rail projects. In the past, federal legislation has given significantly higher funding levels to new highway construction, undermining states like Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey, where new highway projects are far less feasible — and perhaps less desired — than new rail projects.
As discussed earlier today, the key to Obama’s budget will be the compromises made with House Republicans, who just Friday proposed cutting all High Speed Rail funding in 2011.
For more details on Obama’s proposal, check out The Transport Politic’s analysis.