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MIPRC urges Congress to strongly support passenger rail funding in federal 2020 budget
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MIPRC urges Congress to strongly support passenger rail funding in federal 2020 budget

The Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission on April 26 submitted written “outside witness testimony” to the U.S. House and Senate Appropriations subcommittees on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies regarding appropriations to the U.S. Department of Transportation and to Amtrak for Federal Fiscal Year 2020.

In its letter, MIPRC informed members of Congress the Commission “strongly supports” the FFY 2020 THUD appropriations request submitted by the States for Passenger Rail Coalition, and emphasized the following requests:

Additional funding for Amtrak above the FAST Act-authorized levels, to pursue projects in the Midwest – such as additional investment in the Chicago Union Station Master Plan and restoration of service to Wichita and Newton, Kansas, via the Heartland Flyer Extension – that Amtrak listed in its budget request as “FY 2020 Funding Needs Above the Authorized Level.”

 • Additional funding above the FAST Act-authorized levels for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement (CRISI) grants program, the Federal-State Partnership of State of Good Repair (SOGR) grants program and the Restoration and Enhancement grants program. Midwestern states have applied under each of the grant funding rounds made available thus far, have received some awards, and anticipate applying in future rounds in the years to come, to build out and strengthen the Midwest’s passenger rail network. 

 • Continued strong funding for the Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Transportation Discretionary Grant program (formerly known as TIGER), the extremely popular multi-modal infrastructure investments program for projects with a significant local or regional impact. Over the course of the 10 rounds of funding, MIPRC states have received $306.5 million in BUILD/TIGER funding for 15 passenger rail improvement projects in six states.

MIPRC also indicated its readiness to assist each chamber’s subcommittee, and full appropriations committees, as Congress looks to build upon the FFY 18 & 19 investments in rail infrastructure.

MIPRC’s annual meeting this year will be Oct. 21-24 in Washington, D.C., and will be held in conjunction with the Commission’s annual visit to Capitol Hill, to amplify its message of strong funding for passenger rail as negotiations on the next surface transportation funding bill begin.

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