March 2009 – AggBeat
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 offers a much-needed boost to the aggregate industry. Quick-start project requirements should quickly increase demand.
by Kerry Clines, Senior Editor
Behind the Stimulus Package
With money now set to flow from the nearly trillion-dollar economic stimulus package into infrastructure building projects, high-speed rail is a surprise big beneficiary, and one which can affect the legislation’s influence on future infrastructure investment.
“The big winner in transportation” is high-speed rail,” said Dave Bauer, senior vice president of governmental affairs for the American Road and Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA), in a special call to its members about the final economic stimulus package.
In the final package the House and the Senate agreed to on Feb. 13, high-speed rail was allotted $8 billion of the total $48 billion provided for infrastructure investment. “It’s important to understand where we started from to understand the significant boost,” Bauer said. The House package included nothing for high-speed rail, and the Senate provided $2 billion. The conference package “increased it dramatically” to $8 billion, Bauer pointed out.
“Now that so much has been allocated to high-speed rail from the general fund, we should look at this as positive,” Bauer said. “[We] will design and build the system.”
Congress has been diligently working to find a way to fund a national high-speed rail network, and the $8 billion “will certainly set this in motion,” he said. “The fact that this was addressed now is a good thing. There were communities actively working against including highway investment in this. They wanted to include requirements that couldn’t be used for any capacity-related projects.”
Bauer says the passenger rail investment also may take off some of the pressure when it comes to the reauthorization of SAFETEA-LU, which expires on Sept. 30. “This was going to be a big part of the reauthorization,” Bauer noted.
According to Bauer the stimulus bill’s infrastructure investment is “a dress rehearsal” for our industry. “The eyes of the world are upon us, and we need to perform so we get the most robust reauthorization package possible,” he said.
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