Today, Congressman Pete Visclosky and the House Appropriations Committee voted to approve the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act.
The measure includes $350 million for the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements Program. This is $95 million more than the FY 2019 funding level and $20 million more than the level proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request. The Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvement program supports a variety of types of projects, including highway-grade crossing improvements and rail congestion reduction projects.
The report accompanying this legislation also includes language that expresses concern with the increase in the prevalence of railroad crossings blocked by trains and the potential impacts of this to communities and safety. The report directs the Federal Railroad Administration to work with state and local agencies, law enforcement, railroads, and others to examine this problem, collect data, identify trends, and develop recommendations to reduce the number and frequency of blocked railroad crossing occurrences.
Additionally, the measure includes $2.3 billion for the Capital Investment Grant program under the Federal Transit Administration. This is $800 million more than the level proposed in the President’s Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Request. The Capital Investment Grant program provides essential support for investments in transit projects across the United States, including the South Shore Rail Line in Northwest Indiana.
The measure is now referred to the full U.S. House of Representatives for consideration.
Congressman Pete Visclosky stated, “I am thankful that the House Appropriations Committee has taken action to recognize the perilous danger of blocked railroad crossings in communities across our nation. This issue is of the utmost importance to Northwest Indiana communities with numerous railroad crossings, and I will continue to work to press the Administration to positively and actively address this issue in Northwest Indiana and across our country. I remain committed to continuing to do everything possible to support investments in our transportation infrastructure, including efforts to improve the safety and efficiency of railroad crossings and the expansion and recapitalization of the South Shore Rail Line.”