Many Bridges along Northeast Corridor are Over 100 Years Old and Badly Need to Be Repaired or Replaced – Senate Democrats from Northeast Corridor Highlight Report Showing Billions in Infrastructure Projects to get NE Corridor into State of Good Repair
Contrary To Republican Rhetoric, Both Amtrak & Rail Safety Experts Have Repeatedly Articulated the Direct Correlation Between Funding And Safety
Senate Democrats: We Have to Stop Forcing Amtrak to Choose Between Safety and Infrastructure
Today, U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal with his fellow Senate Democrats representing states along Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor urged the Senate Appropriations Committee to fully fund Amtrak’s funding request in the upcoming Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) appropriations bill. The Senators also unveiled a new report from the Senate Democratic Policy and Communications Center detailing all the unfunded and underfunded safety and infrastructure projects along the Northeast Corridor that desperately need this funding. For years, Amtrak has been underfunded, causing Amtrak officials to have to choose between safety and infrastructure upgrades and contributing to a $21 billion backlog. Senators Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), Jack Reed (D-RI), Ranking Member on the THUD subcommittee, Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Bob Casey (D-PA), Chris Coons (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Murphy (D-CT), Edward Markey (D-MA) and Cory Booker (D-NJ) made the announcement at a press conference in the US Capitol Building.
The full report can be found below:
SPECIAL REPORT: Republican Cuts to Passenger Rail Threaten the Safety and Reliability of the Northeast Corridor
Despite record levels of ridership on passenger and commuter railroads across America, federal investment in rail has fallen behind growing the backlog of improvement and safety projects. In the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, President Obama and Senate Democrats provided unprecedented funding for needed passenger rail projects. Instead of working to build on this success, Republicans in Congress have starved federal programs that help repair, rebuild and renew vital passenger rail assets. It's time to invest in America's rails, not gut them.
Republican-led cuts to funding for passenger rail services used by millions of Americans are irresponsible and dangerous, especially when much of the infrastructure along the Northeast Corridor (NEC) is over 100 years old. For example, the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel (B&P Tunnel) in Maryland is over 140 years old and the Hudson River tunnels between New York and New Jersey are over 100 years old. It will cost billions to repair and replace these assets. Without the replacement of these critical capital assets, safety and service will be compromised for the more than 31 million passengers that use Amtrak’s NEC service annually.
Democrats are ready to work with Republicans on a long-term transportation bill that makes meaningful increases in infrastructure investment. If Republicans fail to act, the result will be a massive cut from the levels of funding we need to ensure safety, expand capacity, create jobs, and bolster our economy.
House Republicans plan to slash funding for Amtrak by $251 million from FY15 levels, and billions below the President’s request. The total level of funding for Amtrak set by House Republicans represents a reduction of $251 million from FY 2015 enacted omnibus appropriations and would be the lowest level of funding for Amtrak since 2003. It falls billions of dollars below President’s request to expand and improve passenger rail service and safety, and far short of the $7 to $9 billion a year in passenger rail investment recommended by the National Surface Transportation Policy & Revenue Study Commission, appointed by President George W. Bush [House Committee on Appropriations, 4/28/15, Testimony of National Association of Railroad Passengers before Senate Committee on Appropriations, 3/31/15]
Senate Democrats support increased funding for various programs that will boost passenger rail and help upgrade, maintain, and repair the Northeast Corridor’s aging infrastructure. Senate Democrats support the President’s requested increases for passenger rail, transit and TIGER programs to help address our infrastructure challenges and our maintenance and repair backlog.
The Northeast Corridor is currently running a $21 billion state of good repair and major projects backlog. According to the NEC Commission’s latest report, the Northeast Corridor has a Basic Infrastructure backlog of $7.3 billion for things such as track maintenance and communications and signals; and a Major Projects backlog of $13.8 billion for large scale repairs to aging bridges and tunnels. [NEC Commission, 9/16/14]