Help On Way For Shortlines June 2004??
Short-line tax credit
bill passes Senate, but more needs to be done to improve small roads'
infrastructure, NRC says
The Local Railroad Rehabilitation and
Investment Act of 2003 (S. 1703) has passed the Senate, according to the
National Railroad Construction and Maintenance Association (NRC). A House
companion bill, H.R. 876, still is being considered by the House Ways
& Means Committee.
The bills would amend the Internal Revenue Code
of 1986 to provide short lines and regionals an income tax credit for
track maintenance expenditures. Tax credits would be capped at $10,000 for
every track mile regionals and short lines own or lease, and small roads
would be able to transfer credits they can't use to other roads, shippers,
suppliers or contractors. Credits would be issued against qualified track
maintenance expenditures, such as maintaining or upgrading track, roadbed,
bridges and related structures.
The Senate provision permits a tax
credit of 30 cents on the dollar for infrastructure investments and caps
the credit at miles of line operated times $3,500, according to the NRC.
"The Congressional Budget Office estimated a revenue impact of $500
million over three years, [which] would generate about $1.7 billion in
track spending," said NRC Chairman Rick Ebersold in a column sent to
members. "Unfortunately, the House companion bill does not contain a
similar provision, so this will be a conference issue between the House
Meanwhile, NRC and American Short Line and Regional
Railroad Association officials support a congressional plan to increase
the loan authority available under the Railroad Rehabilitation and
Infrastructure Financing (RRIF) program tenfold to $35 billion.
Launched in 2001 as part of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st
Century (TEA-21), RRIF authorizes the Federal Railroad Administration to
provide $3.5 billion in direct loans or loan guarantees to eligible
railroads (including $1 billion set aside for regionals and short lines),
state and local governments, and government-sponsored authorities to
acquire, develop, improve or rehabilitate intermodal or rail facilities.
To generate even more federal funds for small-road infrastructure
improvements, Congress should consider adding a short-line funding
provision to TEA-21 reauthorization legislation, said Ebersold.
repair of our short-line rail network should be designated as a 'Project
of National Significance,'" he said. "A combination of tax credits, RRIF
loan reform and direct modernization grants should be concentrated in a
coordinated effort to cure the $7 billion shortfall faced by these