Rail-finance legislation includes freight provision

Rail-finance legislation includes freight provision

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings, D-S.C., included freight rail provisions in legislation he recently introduced to create a new financing organization to enhance rail transportation in the U.S.

The bill, S-1961, is a broader version of legislation that Hollings introduced in the 107th Congress and which the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee approved 20-3.

The primary focus of the legislation, dubbed Arrive 21, is a new mechanism to improve the nation's rail infrastructure. In part, the bill would establish the Rail Infrastructure Finance Corp. (RIFCO), a public-private partnership that would have the authority to issue $30 billion in tax-credit bonds over six years.

RIFCO would award states formula grants for freight capital projects, including intermodal facilities development, as well as finance passenger rail projects. The bill that Hollings introduced last year did not include capital support for freight projects.

Hollings is the ranking Democrat on the Commerce Committee. A Hollings spokesman said the legislation, which has some bipartisan support and was introduced Nov. 25, could be incorporated into legislation to reauthorize the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century, which Congress is expected to complete sometime in 2004.