President Barack Obama signed the $787 billion economic stimulus bill, an ambitious package of federal spending and tax cuts designed to revive the economy and save millions of jobs, in Denver on Tuesday.
“I thank and congratulate President Barack Obama for this impressive and hard-won victory…we at the Department of Transportation are ready to go," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on President Obama’s signing of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. "I look forward to hearing the sounds of shovels and hammers and bulldozers and, in some cases, of moving that first shovelful of dirt myself.”
The economic recovery legislation provides $8.4 billion for investments in public transportation projects. Of the $8.4 billion provided for public transit, $6.9 billion will be distributed to public transit systems through the Federal Transit Administration’s formula program that is already in place. The remaining $1.5 billion will be available as grants for new major projects and modernizing the nation’s urban rail systems.
The legislation also includes, for the first time, a significant investment of $9.3 billion for intercity passenger rail, including $8 billion for high-speed rail corridors and $1.3 billion for Amtrak. Additionally, there is $1.5 billion for a new, intermodal discretionary program that can be used for public transportation, highways, bridges, freight rail and ports. Separately, an additional $150 million for rail and transit security grants is provided.
“This groundbreaking legislation will give people expanded travel options, while creating or supporting hundreds of thousands of American jobs,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President William W. Millar. “Setting the course for years to come, this legislation will begin to craft a greater intermodal transportation system that our nation desperately needs.”
Pointing out that Congress also included tax incentives to encourage transit commute benefits at the same level as parking benefits, Millar said, “We are very pleased that Congress, for the first time, has made the transit commute benefit equal to the parking benefit, which is currently $230 per month. This action will provide a tax-free way for employers to encourage their employees to use energy-efficient, fuel-saving public transportation.”