The Federal Railroad Administration is “looking for more input from states” on ways to expand safe and reliable rail transportation options now and in the future.
[Above photo by AASHTO]
Amit Bose (seen above), FRA administrator, made that comment among others during the four-day American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials Council on Rail Transportation’s legislative meeting on in Washington, D.C.
“We are looking at how we can best support states as well as benefit from your experience and knowledge,” Bose explained during the meeting’s opening keynote address on February 23.
“To advance clean, safe, and equitable rail service for all Americans is a collective effort,” he said. “But we can’t do everything all at once. That’s why it is helpful to hear from state DOTs to know where we need to focus our efforts where rail is concerned.”
Bose added that state department of transportation input would be “paramount” throughout the implementation of the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act or IIJA – signed into law in November 2021 – in terms of helping target the $66 billion it contains for passenger rail over the next five years.
“Making the federal process more user friendly is something that we will continue to do and engage with you on,” he said.
“Delivering cross-modal benefits to our communities while relieving chokepoints and congestion to improve our nation’s supply chains are other areas where we are working on collaboratively with states,” Bose noted. “We are looking for input from the states to build supply chains back better and make the shipment of goods and movement of passengers more efficient and resilient in the future.”
Jim Tymon, AASHTO’s executive director, voiced support for Bose’s comments during the opening session.
“We all know the work state DOTs do to advance the development of passenger rail across the country, to assist in alleviating supply chain bottlenecks with our partners, and keep freight moving nationwide to support our economy,” he said.
“We are also always trying to build into the transportation narrative the multi-modal aspect of what state DOTs do, especially on the passenger rail side – helping us move people and freight in more efficient ways,” Tymon added.
Joe Giulietti, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Transportation and chair of the Council on Rail Transportation, echoed Tymon’s comments.
“Things only get done when we work together – the states and our federal partners,” he stressed. “As we come out of the [COVID-19] pandemic, the pressure is on – to ensure rail service grows while continuing to focus on safety, equity, climate change, and resiliency.”