Administration budget cuts threaten, but FTA can still fund some projects

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WASHINGTON — Unless Congress restores funds to build new rail transit infrastructure, the future of federal taxpayer dollars going to transit projects looks doomed. The Trump administration's $4.1 trillion 2018 budget proposal effectively cancels any new infrastructure projects under the Federal Transit Administration's Capital Investment Grant program. But until Congress hammers out a new budget, the FTA still has some money to spend.

The omnibus spending bill that took effect on May 5 allocates $2.4 billion to the FTA for the grant program. In an annual report submitted to Congress in May, the agency recommends spending $1.2 billion for capital investment projects. The funds will go to 12 large-scale projects that already have full funding grant agreements, or expect to qualify for them in the near future.

Among the group is Caltrain's Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project between San Francisco and San Jose, Calif., for which FTA announced it would pledge $647 million. Other projects are in New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Texas, Minnesota, and Washington.

But the FTA falls into line with the administration's budget proposal by canceling funding for small start projects, those costing $300 million or less. Some 32 projects in 17 states would be affected.

The American Public Transportation Association has been quick to sound the alarm. It says that eliminating the grant program would cost $90 billion in economic output, and 800,000 jobs could be lost.

American Public Transportation Association acting President Richard A. White said the budget cuts were “inconsistent with addressing America's critical transportation needs and helping America's economy prosper.”

NEWSWIRETrains News Wire

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