DOT Secretary Foxx confirms Northeast Corridor funds and upgrades

A recent announcement from Anthony Foxx, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), states that the entire Northeast Corridor, which is the busiest passenger rail corridor within the U.S., needs another $550 million to continue with necessary maintenance and upgrades.

“The Northeast Corridor is a critical lifeline for many people,” Foxx said. “If you compare it to airline travel between, say, Washington, D.C., and New York, three out of every four trips is taken by rail -- not the other way. So it’s a very important corridor for us. It is also a corridor, as you point out, that in some cases is moving past its useful life in terms of the actual infrastructure. And one thing we can’t afford, in a place where so many people count on rail as a lifeline, is something to happen with the infrastructure that would result in a loss of life or a long-term stoppage in our ability to move people. It would create a traffic disaster in the Northeast if we didn’t have that Northeast Corridor behind us.”

This was given in response to a recent announcement from U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CN), which stated that more finances are needed to improve the safety and structural integrity of the Northeast Corridor.

“So our Fiscal Year 2016 budget request contains $550 million specifically for the Northeast Corridor, much of it specifically for state of good repair,” Foxx said. “Just to get us back in the business of trying to update what we have. I think long-term, we need to have a much bigger vision for the Northeast. I think the service should be faster, I think we should think in terms of making sure that we have a stepped up level of safety features on all aspects of our rail systems in the Northeast, and this could be the subject of not only public funding, but it also could be the subject of public-private partnership as well.”

The statements between the two leaders occurred in a U.S. Senate Appropriations Transportation, Housing and Urban Development and Related Agencies Subcommittee hearing.

“We’re talking about a section of the country that’s only about two percent of the nation’s land mass but has 20 percent of the rail traffic and about 19 percent of the nation’s GDP,” Murphy said. 

The hearing was called to discuss the 2015 fiscal year DOT budget request.

“And so we are working, actually, to develop a strategy around this along with the Northeast Corridor Commission, and I think that over time we’re going to see some big things happen in the Northeast Corridor,” Foxx said. “And it’s important that it happen because some of the infrastructure up there may have a lifespan of, say, 20 more years, and if we wait too long to start fixing it, we’re going to find ourselves not having that great asset.”

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Northeast Corridor Commission

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