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Transportation & Construction Committee Update

January 28, 2010
Staff contact: Frank Kerbein

PRESIDENT OBAMA OUTLINES INFRASTRUCTURE PRIORITIES

In his State of the Union Address, President Barack Obama proposed putting Americans back to work by building the infrastructure of tomorrow. President Obama said that from the first railroads to the Interstate Highway System, our nation has always been built to compete.

However, the President did not push for a comprehensive federal highway bill to rebuild the nation's crumbling roads and bridges. Prior to the State of the Union, House Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman James Oberstar (D-MN) lobbied the President to include a $500 billion six-year transportation bill. The President and Senate Majority are supporting an 18-month extension.  The current federal highway program expires in February.

Congressman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) said that there are risks and opportunities if the next six-year transportation bill is postponed. Nadler and New York transportation officials said that an interim bill would lack programmatic changes and continue distribution of funds using outdated funding formulas.

The initial phase of high speed rail funding from the ARRA was announced as well, with $151 million dedicated to New York.  The Albany-Buffalo corridor received $148 million for track construction, signaling, interlocking improvements, warning devices and station enhancements in Rochester and Buffalo. The New York-Montreal line received $3 million to relieve congestion, which will improve on-time performance.

The first stage of high speed rail funding is dramatically less than the $525 million requested by the New York State Department of Transportation. New York lags far behind other states like California and Florida, which received billions for projects.

The Business Council has partnered with Americans for Transportation Mobility, The Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility and the New York State Asset Maximization Commission for federal investment and innovative funding to help rebuild New York's aging transportation infrastructure