The annual meeting of the AASHTO Council on Rail Transportation or CORT – held earlier this month in San Diego – detailed the fiscal support provided so far to railroad safety projects following the enactment of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA in 2021 and what is coming down the tracks in the near future.
[Above photo by AASHTO]
CORT – through which the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials addresses all policy, regulatory, safety, operations, and investment issues states use to develop an efficient national freight and passenger rail system – invited a wide array of speakers to its annual meeting.
Those speakers included: Amit Bose, administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration; Toks Omishakin, secretary of the California State Transportation Agency; State Senator Catherine Blakespear, chairwoman for the Senate Transportation Subcommittee on Los Angeles-San Diego-San Luis Obispo or “LOSSAN” Rail Corridor Resiliency for the California legislature; Bruce Armistead, chief program manager for the California High-Speed Rail Authority; and Andy Byford, senior VP for high-speed rail development at Amtrak.
Marc Williams, executive director of the Texas Department of Transportation and CORT’s chair, noted in his remarks at the meeting that AASHTO “always seeks to be a resource for technical assistance and platforms” to help states communicate with their federal, public, and industry partners.
“Support from the FRA and cooperation between states and our federal partners is critical to the successful implementation of the funding provided by the IIJA, and the vision for transportation shared by the White House, Congress, and all of us here today,” he added.
Attendees at the CORT annual meeting joined Amtrak and the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency for a “Pacific Surfliner” tour organized by AASHTO and led by Jason Jewell, managing director of the LOSSAN Rail Corridor Agency.
Attendees on the tour got to experience the coastal resiliency challenges faced along the LOSSAN Rail Corridor firsthand, with Jewell providing a unique perspective regarding coastal resiliency along the Corridor and describing some of the ridership trends and innovative ways his agency is promoting rail within the region.
For example, Jewell described a recent partnership with the X Games to provide easy and accessible travel up and down the Southern California Coast to the X Games; an event held this past July in Ventura, CA.