Thursday, February 19, 2009

How Amtrak Will Spent Its Piece of Stimulus Pie

Government Executive provides an interesting breakdown of how Amtrak's economic stimulus money will be spent. The legislation signed into law earlier this week by President Obama gives the railroad $1.3 billion in direct appropriations.

$450 million will go toward security improvements and the rest ($850 million) for capital improvements. Of the latter figure, 60 percent will be spent on the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak's busiest line.

According to the report, Amtrak could see additional money from the $8 billion appropriated for high-speed rail projects. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has the final call on how that pool of money will be allocated. An additional $288 million could be headed toward the Boston - Washington line as the result of a change in the law making Amtrak eligible to issue tax-exempt bonds to finance "high-speed rail facilities" along that route.

1 comment:

  1. Regarding the "$8B for HSR", I'm at a loss to think of such as anything other than an earmark; well maybe 'consultant feed'.

    The $540M appropriated by ARRA '09 for the Corridor will prove far more beneficial as that sum can readily translate into "shovel ready' projects that Amtrak Engineering has done design work, obtained the EIS, ADA compliance, and whatever else and were sitting upon until funds were available. That is the intent of "stimulus" - to get people with a propensity to consume to work - and visibly to the extent possible (remember, Bush tried stimulus directed at people with a propensity to save, i.e. tax cuts, to stimulate the stagnant economy that prevailed through seven years of his Presidency. We all know it didn't work, and let's not even think about the economy of his final year in office).

    Finally, in view of his present high popularity and the continued low esteem of Congress, I believe President Obama should have been more forceful with the leadership of his own party with regards to the "porkulus' (a Hannity and Limbaugh term). The President should have had the two leaders sat down in the Oval Office and be given "the word" of " Madame Speaker and Mr. Majority Leader, I do not want any pork in this Stimulus legislation; or for that matter Earmarks should someone choose to call it that. Don't let your people pork it up as the Republicans, and their friends in the media, will eat us for Lunch". That he evidently was unsuccessful in whatever efforts he made in that direction I think will go down as the first mistake of his Administration.

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