Senator Reverend Warnock Secures Wins for Georgia Rail Infrastructure, Champions Continued Investment in Georgia Workers, Railroads, Multimodal Transportation

In Executive Session of the Senate Commerce Committee, Senator Warnock advances bipartisan surface transportation to bolster Georgia transportation network
Legislation includes provisions championed by Senator Warnock to strengthen rail safety and bolster rail and multimodal transportation throughout the state
Senator Reverend Warnock: “This bipartisan legislation is excellent news for Georgia workers, Georgia’s railroads and ports, manufacturers and innovators that will help keep our economy moving forward.”

Washington, D.C. – On Wednesday at an Executive Commerce Committee session, U.S. Senator Reverend Raphael Warnock (D-GA) helped to advance bipartisan legislation that would strengthen Georgia’s transportation infrastructure through provisions that would protect Georgia workers, invest in our state’s railroads and ports, support manufacturers and improve transit options for Georgia’s families.

The passage of the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021 follows Senator Warnock’s continued push for federal investments to improve our freight network, from railroads to ports, to better enable Georgia businesses of all sizes to access national and global markets, boosting our economy in the process.

“I am proud to help push the Surface Transportation Investment Act closer to the finish line. This bipartisan legislation is excellent news for Georgia workers, Georgia’s railroads and ports, manufacturers and innovators that will help keep our economy moving forward,” said Senator Warnock. “I will continue to prioritize historic federal investments that equip our transportation infrastructure to stand the test of time, boost our economy and improve physical, and social, mobility for Georgians in every corner of the state.”

This bipartisan bill provides $78 billion over five years (FY22-26) for multimodal surface transportation, rail, freight, and safety programs. See below more information on the provisions in the Surface Transportation Investment Act of 2021 (STIA) that Senator Warnock successfully advocated to include in the legislation:

Multimodal and Freight Investments:
Multimodal:

• Senator Warnock successfully secured language in the legislation to ensure Georgia infrastructure projects like Midtown Connector, Project Stitch, and other transformative multimodal projects have access to federal funding. The bill provides $2 billion per year for this new national infrastructure project assistance program.
• STIA would also authorize DOT’s extremely popular TIGER/BUILD/RAISE grant program for the first time. The bill would provide $1.5 billion annually, which matches the highest funding level the program has ever received.
• Georgians from Fort Valley to Augusta to Dahlonega to Jeffersonville to Atlanta have benefited from this program, and increased funding will help realize Georgia projects like the Atlanta BeltLine.
• The bill also provides rural communities with the resources and tools to better plan and compete for financial assistance. Senator Warnock has been an advocate for providing resources for rural transportation to ensure physical mobility encourages social mobility in every corner of the state.

Freight:
• This bill provides an average of $1.2 billion a year for the Nationally Significant Multimodal Freight grant program (INFRA), a critical resource for Georgia projects like Ports Authority’s Northeast Inland Port and the Georgia Department of Transportation’s I-285 express lanes. The approach to the INFRA grant program in STIA makes good on Senator Warnock’s push for investment in multimodal freight solutions.
• Additionally, the bill provides resources for multistate planning and research.

Rail Investments:
Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI)
• The bill authorizes $1 billion per year for the grant program, which Senator Warnock helped secure. In advance of its passage, Senator Warnock has been a champion for this program which supports a wide array of rail projects – from track relocation to workforce development training to grade crossing safety improvements.
• Senator Warnock also pushed for language in this legislation to protect Georgia railroad interests and protect the rural-focused provisions in this bill.
• Senator Warnock also championed language to secure eligibility for short lines and other qualifying railroad applicants to green their locomotive in the legislation.

Passenger Rail
• This bill authorizes over $25 billion over five years for intercity passenger rail, the most significant bipartisan investment in passenger rail in history.
• Senator Warnock worked to include funding to support the creation of new rail interstate compacts, a priority for Georgians actively working to expand intercity passenger rail and make Georgia the passenger rail hub of the Southeast.

Rail Safety
• This bill authorizes over $7.5 billion over five years for rail safety and improvement projects (including CRISI).
• This includes a new $500 million per year grant program to eliminate grade crossings. Senator Warnock has underscored the need to direct new federal funding to specifically address, and resolve, dangers of at-grade rail crossings, outside of existing programs. This program complements the RURAL Act introduced by Senator Warnock and Senator Braun, and will help Georgians and Georgia products move in a safer, more efficient manner throughout the state.

Research Investments:
• This bill authorizes over $1 billion for new and existing research and development programs, including $100 million per year for a new Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) grant program, inspired by the Moving FIRST Act Senator Warnock cosponsors.
• This program provides funding for local governments to pursue demonstration projects that incorporate innovative transportation technologies or use data, including coordinated automation, connected vehicles, and intelligent sensor-based infrastructure as Georgia continues to lead in advancing and testing connected infrastructure technology.

Safety Investments:
• Senator Warnock supported increasing federal safety investments in the Surface Investment Act of 2021, which resulted in:
$6 billion for our country’s highway safety programs, including funding for local governments to create vision zero plans to make our communities safer,
$4.6 billion for commercial vehicle programs to provide flexibility to states to help address highway fatalities, combat human trafficking, and improve law enforcement training,
• and $500 million dollars over five years to improve first responder planning and training for hazardous material incidents.

A summary of the legislation is available HERE, a section-by-section can be found HERE, and the full text of the bill can be read HERE.

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