Transit advocates were pleasantly surprised when the final federal stimulus package that emerged from the congressional conference committee included $9.3 billion in funding for intercity and high-speed rail — an increase of more than $6 billion from any previous version of the stimulus bill.
The surprise funding increase was included at President Obama’s request, according to a report by David Rogers on Politico, a news Web site.
Transportation funding in the stimulus package includes $1.3 billion for Amtrak and $8 billion for other intercity and high-speed rail service. The stimulus package now includes $48.1 billion in overall funding for transportation – at least $2 billion more than was in either the House or the Senate Bill.
President Obama wanted to have a “signature issue” in the stimulus package and asked the conference committee for a big increase in rail funding, according to Politico, which also reports that President Obama is expected to request another $1 billion for high speed rail in each of the next five years.
“This is encouraging news for the GBC, which has been strongly urging our elected leaders to significantly strengthen funding for transportation infrastructure in our nation and state,” said Donald C. Fry, president and CEO, Greater Baltimore Committee. “The GBC is an active participant in several national and regional transportation advocacy organizations.”