Durbin: Final Transportation Funding Bill Protects Illinois Amtrak

High speed rail can and should continue through robust TIGER grant program

WASHINGTON, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–November 15, 2011. U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today issued the following statement after a Conference Committee between members of the Senate and the House of Representatives released a final appropriations bill that includes funding for transportation projects in Illinois and around the country.  The legislation will now go to the House and Senate for final approval.

“By rejecting the House Republican proposal that would have devastated Illinois Amtrak, the members of the Conference Committee affirmed Congress’ commitment to continue growing passenger service in the United States.  

“While I am disappointed that the final bill did not include funding specifically for high speed rail, I am confident that our commitment will continue through the TIGER grant program.  This successful program was not only spared from House Republican attempts to eliminate it completely, but it was funded at a robust $500 million – a big win for transportation advocates. 

“Across the country, high speed rail is consistent with the TIGER grant program’s objective – to fund nationally significant transportation projects that will improve safety, spur economic development, reduce congestion through multimodal investments and create thousands of good paying jobs.  I will work to see that high speed rail projects in Illinois are made eligible for funding through this program.” 

Over the last few months, Durbin has worked to stop portions of the transportation funding bill passed by the House of Representatives from being included in the final Conference Committee report. Their version of the bill would have cut Amtrak’s operating funding by 60 percent, prohibited Amtrak from using any federal funds to help states pay for state supported routes, and provided no money for high-speed and intercity rail projects.  According to Durbin, this proposal would have dismantled Amtrak service in Illinois and stunted high-speed rail growth in spite of record ridership numbers.

Source: durbin.senate.gov