Today, Congressman Steve Cohen (TN-09) applauded legislation to improve the nation's intercity passenger rail system and the safety of our railroads. H.R. 2095, the Railroad Safety Enhancement Act, was signed into law by President Bush on Thursday. This legislation will increase funding for Amtrak over the next five years, require new train safety controls to help reduce crashes, allow states to regulate solid waste processing facilities along rail lines and allocate funding for improvements to Washington, D.C.'s Metro transit system.
The legislation authorizes $13.06 billion over five years for passenger rail - more than $2.6 billion annually for Amtrak, intercity passenger rail, and high speed rail programs, which is almost double what the U.S. is currently spending.
"I strongly supported this legislation serving on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee alongside Chairman Jim Oberstar (MN-08)," said Congressman Cohen. "This legislation includes a feasibility study to extend the South Central High-Speed Rail Corridor from its current end point in Little Rock to Memphis, a provision for which I fought. The South Central High-Speed Rail Corridor extension will greatly benefit travelers in Memphis as well as enhance the critical role that Memphis and the greater Mid-South region play in our national transportation network."
On October 11, 2000, Department of Transportation Secretary Rodney Slater designated the new South Central High-Speed Rail Corridor to serve Texas, Arkansas, and Oklahoma. This provision will direct the Secretary of DOT to determine the feasibility of extending the South Central High-Speed Rail Corridor from Little Rock, AR to Memphis. Improvements to the South Central High Speed Rail Corridor will yield substantial improvements in mobility, transportation efficiency, environmental quality, safety and health for residents and business throughout the Mid-South.
Congressman Cohen added, "Memphis remains one of the most important and busiest transportation hubs in the world, and there are extensive plans for further growth. This link would provide another valuable connection in the transportation network, reducing congestion on our highways, airways, and waterways while meeting the needs of travelers."