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President Signs American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, Pub. L. 111-5 (ARRA) into law on February 17, 2009, providing $8.4 billion in funding for public transportation and $9.3 billion for the development of high-speed and intercity passenger rail.  The legislation requires both funding and receiving agencies to act very quickly to get the money working on capital projects.

Public Transportation.  The Federal Transit Administration (FTA) is required to have made $7.65 billion of the apportioned monies available to eligible grantees through existing formula-based grant programs by March 10, 2009.  Grantees, in turn, must be able to obligate at least 50% of the funds they receive to capital projects within 180 days of the apportionment and must use the remainder within one year.  The remaining $750 million will be distributed in the form of discretionary grants for projects currently under construction or ready for immediate commencement, and to assist agencies to “reduce energy consumption or greenhouse gas emissions.”  The federal share of grants awarded under ARRA will be either 80% or 100%, depending on the FTA program that funds are apportioned.

The text of the legislation relating to FTA grants is available beginning at page 95.  FTA provides frequent updates on its website concerning grants, program guidance, and other matters of interest relating to ARRA.  Links to the progress of individual projects are also available at https://www.transportation.gov/recovery.

High-speed and Intercity Passenger Rail.  ARRA provides $1.3 billion to Amtrak for capital improvements and security upgrades.  Text of the legislation relating to Amtrak is available at page 95.  ARRA provides an additional $8 billion for discretionary grants to support capital improvements to existing intercity passenger rail facilities and the development of high-speed rail corridors.  The funds apportioned under ARRA are in addition to those authorized by the Passenger Rail and Investment Act of 2008, Pub. L. 110-432, and are intended to be used for programs identified in that earlier legislation.  Text of ARRA addressing high-speed and intercity passenger rail programs is available at page 94.  The Department of Transportation provides updates on its ARRA-related activities at https://www.transportation.gov/recovery.