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FY 2014 Transportation Appropriations Move Forward

On June 27, 2013, both the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committees passed draft Fiscal Year 2014 appropriations bills for the U.S. Department of Transportation. Both bills fully fund the highway and transit program levels outlined in Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21stCentury (MAP-21), the current federal transportation authorization law, of $40.3 billion for federal-aid highways and $8.6 billion for transit formula programs. However, there are several significant differences between the bills.

The Senate bill would provide $550 million for the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) competitive grant program and $500 million for a new "Bridges in Critical Corridors" repair program; the House bill would not fund TIGER or the new bridge program. The Senate bill would provide more funding for Amtrak operating and capital grants than the House bill ($1.473 billion and $975 million, respectively), as well as for the New Starts discretionary transit capital program ($1.943 billion and $1.816 billion, respectively).

The TIGER, Amtrak, and New Starts programs are particularly relevant to northeastern Illinois, which is home to the nation's second largest transit network and serves as the continent's premier rail hub. The region has been successful in securing competitive TIGER grants, particularly for freight and transit projects. Additionally, policy changes in MAP-21 opened up the New Starts program to support "core capacity" improvements – such as those needed for established transit systems – rather than new facilities or extensions.

Neither the House nor Senate bills provide the $50 billion in immediate transportation investments called for in the White House's FY 2014 budget proposal. Further, neither bill provides for an infrastructure bank or other new capital financing tools included in the White House proposal. For more information, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials published a summary of the two bills.