Press Release from the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure
February 8, 2011
Washington, DC – House Transportation Committee Chairman John L. Mica (R-FL) and Railroads Subcommittee Chairman Bill Shuster (R-PA) today expressed extreme reservations regarding the Obama Administration’s plan to spend $53 billion over the next six years on rail infrastructure projects.
“This is like giving Bernie Madoff another chance at handling your investment portfolio,” Mica said.
“With the first $10.5 billion in Administration rail grants, we found that 1) the Federal Railroad Administration is neither a capable grant agency, nor should it be involved in the selection of projects, 2) what the Administration touted as high-speed rail ended up as embarrassing snail-speed trains to nowhere, and 3) Amtrak hijacked 76 of the 78 projects, most of them costly and some already rejected by state agencies,” Mica added. “Amtrak’s Soviet-style train system is not the way to provide modern and efficient passenger rail service.
“Rather than focusing on the Northeast Corridor, the most congested corridor in the nation and the only corridor owned by the federal government, the Administration continues to squander limited taxpayer dollars on marginal projects,” Mica concluded.
Shuster said, “The Administration continues to fail in attracting private investment, capital and the experience to properly develop and cost-effectively operate true high-speed rail. They have also ignored my provision in law that calls for competition on money-losing Amtrak routes.
“The Committee plans to investigate how previous funding decisions were made. I have no problem with sound investments in alternative transportation projects, but selecting routes behind closed doors runs counter to the Administration’s pledges of transparency. I am concerned that without appropriate controls to ensure the most worthy projects are the ones that receive funding, high-speed rail funding could become another political grab bag for the President.”
Shuster continued, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result and that is exactly what Vice President Biden offered today. If the Obama Administration is serious about high-speed rail, they should stop throwing money at projects in the same failed manner.
“Rail projects that are not economically sound will not ‘win the future.’ It just prolongs the inevitable by subsidizing a failed Amtrak monopoly that has never made a profit or even broken even. Government won’t develop American high-speed rail. Private investment and a competitive market will,” Shuster said.
# # #