A blog for better streets and public spaces in Portland, Maine.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

This is what leadership looks like

Old news, but last Wednesday, on June 11th, the House of Representatives in Washington passed “The Rail Passenger Improvement and Investment Act,” reauthorizing and increasing Amtrak’s funding through 2013 (the the first re-authorization in 11 years). The bill also includes "$2.5 billion in capital investment grants to states for increasing ridership and quality of service" and "requires the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Amtrak, and the Surface Transportation Board to assess the rail transportation needs of communities and populations that are not well served by other forms of public transportation" (source: Vote Smart). The bill also includes funding for bike racks in railcars for traveling cyclists.

The focus on capital investment and serving areas without public transportation could be great news for passenger rail in Maine... if only our transportation bureaucracies weren't so hidebound to and preoccupied with obsolete, money-sucking highway projects. In all likelihood, I'm afraid this federal money will go to states that have their act together, instead of to Maine.

Also in Washington, the House passed a bill, HR 3021, that would provide grants to state school systems to make schools more energy-efficient. An amendment sponsored by Oregon's Earl Blumenauer also included provisions to allow the funds to be used for improved bike and pedestrian access to schools.

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