North Little Rock Mayor Hays Calls for Targeted Federal Grants for Rail Station Improvements
By Ron Thaniel
September 28, 2009
The U.S. Conference of Mayors Transportation and Communications Committee Vice Chair for Rail Policy North Little Rock Mayor Hays, met with Karen J. Rae, Deputy Administrator for the Federal Railroad Administration, U.S. Department of Transportation; Joanna Liberman Turner, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Intergovernmental Affairs, U.S. Department of Transportation; Joe McHugh, Vice President for Government Affairs and Communications, Amtrak; and Nicholas L. Martinelli, Legislative Director and Transportation Committee Professional Staff to the House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines, and Hazardous Materials Chair Corrine Brown (FL), urged that future federal high'speed and intercity rail corridor funding included a new and targeted program to bring stations into a state of good repair. The meeting was held in Washington (DC) September 16.
In addition to station improvements, Hays said, “This program should make grants available for transit/rail-oriented development and improved access to transit and airports.” He added, “All these investments will guarantee the success of high'speed and intercity rail corridors.”
Unlike the current round of The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) high'speed rail grants that limit awards to states, the District of Columbia, Amtrak, and public intercity passenger rail agencies, Hays said, “Future grant opportunities, in particular a new and targeted station state of good repair grant program, should recognize that cities own and manage many of the stations and should be allow to compete with states for grants.”
He also said that the next surface transportation authorization should include sustainable funding for planning and development of high'speed and intercity rail corridors.
Hays was joined by the President and CEO of Reconnecting America, former Amtrak Chairman of the Board and past Conference of Mayors Transportation and Communications Committee Vice Chair for Rail Policy, Meridian Mayor John Robert Smith.