Financial District: High-speed rail going slow

People responsible for building roads aren’t the only ones wondering where future funding, both short and long term, will come from. High-speed rail may be on the slow track to funding.

The problem – for both rail and road builders – is the expected meager transportation allotment in the federal budget.


…the size of the overallbudget, much less the transportation portion, is still uncertain…


Writing in The Bond Buyer newspaper, Washington correspondent Audrey Dutton reports that one congressional staffer, addressing a rail meeting in D.C., said that “Congressional appropriators will be hard-pressed to provide more funding for high-speed rail for fiscal 2011 unless there is clear evidence that the $10.5 billion lawmakers approved for the sector has been used by state and local governments.” House Appropriations’ transportation, housing, and urban development subcommittee staff member Sylvia Garcia told the rail folks. “This year is going to be pretty tough.” One factor with the full committee, according to Garcia, is that it’s tough to get more funding when the original funding has not show demonstrable results, a problem with big, new programs like high-speed rail that take time to develop.

Garcia warned that the size of the overall budget, much less the transportation portion, is still uncertain, and Congress has not yet voted on a budget resolution.

“If or when that happens,” writes Dutton, “it may decide to either freeze or decrease spending in fiscal 2011. The Senate budget committee approved a budget resolution late last month that included about $10 billion less in new budget authority for transportation in the coming fiscal year, which begins October 1 than in the current one, but about the same level of outlays.”

Last year, Congress approved $8 billion for high-speed rail grants and another $2.5 billion in this year’s appropriations. v

Editor’s Note: Bond Buyer is a SourceMedia publication. SourceMedia is owned by Investcorp, which also owns Randall-Reilly, the parent company of Better Roads.