Kerry: White House Commitment to High Speed Rail A Step Towards World Class Rail System
Senator John Kerry (D-Mass.), author of the High-Speed Rail for America Act, today praised President Obama's aggressive plan to revolutionize American rail. Earlier this year, Senator Kerry secured $8 billion in funding for high-speed rail as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA.)
"President Obama's plan is an effective national investment that will cut pollution, reduce dependence on foreign oil, unclog our roads and airports, and, most importantly, put Americans back to work. I applaud the President's call this morning for $5 billion in rail funding over the next five years. This infrastructure investment will help move our rail systems up to par with the high-tech rail systems across the globe. For too long, we've trailed other countries in high-speed rail, and 2009 can be the year we finally make the investments needed to reverse that trend. "
The rail provision included in the ARRA allows transit projects to receive tax-exempt financing and requires that high-speed trains must be reasonably expected to reach 150 miles per hour. The new law also includes a provision modeled after Kerry legislation that would exempt interest from private activity bonds from the Alternative Minimum Tax, including interest from high-speed rail bonds. This change would make bonds more attractive to investors.
Senator Kerry has long advocated modernizing America's trains and railroads. The High-Speed Rail for America Act of 2008, cosponsored by Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), called for $8 billion over a six-year period for tax-exempt bonds to finance high-speed rail projects. The bill also called for an Office of High-Speed Passenger Rail to oversee the development of high-speed rail and provide a consistent source of funding. In the coming weeks, Senator Kerry plans to reintroduce his legislation at an event in Massachusetts that will focus on rail benefits for the Northeast Corridor.