PASSAGE OF THUD SPENDING BILL ENCOURAGES EXPLORATION OF PASSENGER RAIL THROUGH MIDDLE AND SOUTHWEST GEORGIA
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr. (GA-02), Member of the House Appropriations Committee, is pleased to announce the Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies (THUD) Appropriations Act encourages the exploration of passenger rail opportunities throughout Middle and Southwest Georgia, opening the door to rail lines between Macon and Atlanta as well as Columbus and Atlanta.
“The possibility of passenger rail lines to Macon and Columbus present many exciting business prospects and transportation opportunities for many Georgians,” said Congressman Bishop. “Not only would the initiative strengthen our state’s economy and create jobs, but also broaden regional access to our wonderful communities in Middle and Southwest Georgia!”
“To meet our transportation needs now and in the very near future, Georgia needs to be planning today for passenger rail, and I want to thank Congressman Bishop for his leadership and vision of an alternate way to connect our cities and states,” said Robert Reichert, Mayor of Macon-Bibb County. “We cannot continue to support only wider and wider roads as people move closer to the urban cores and are seeking ways to travel other than their cars. Transit and intercity passenger rail options will determine our future.”
"We are thankful Congressman Bishop sees the economic development potential of intercity rail. We applaud his leadership on this important issue for our transportation future," said Teresa Tomlinson, Mayor of Columbus.
“NewTown Macon applauds Congressman Bishop for continuing to plan for comprehensive transportation to handle Georgia's growth, especially rail,” said Josh Rogers, President and CEO of NewTown Macon.
Congressman Bishop is responsible for specific language within the government spending bill urging the Federal Railroad Association to engage stakeholders in the Southeastern region of the United States to develop a multi-state planning process for improving the intercity passenger rail network. As a result, this language encourages the Georgia Department of Transportation to pursue the option of developing an inter-city commuter and passenger rail between Atlanta and cities in Middle and Southwest Georgia.
In total, the bill includes $17.2 billion in discretionary appropriations for the Department of Transportation for Fiscal Year 2016. This amount is $1 billion below the Fiscal Year 2015 enacted level and $6.8 billion below the President’s request. Congressman Bishop ultimately did not vote in favor of the THUD bill, as the funding level within the bill shortchanges the effort to renew America’s aging transportation infrastructure.
The bill was approved Wednesday night by the U.S. House of Representatives by a vote of 216 to 210 and now goes to the Senate for consideration. For more information on funding levels and key provisions in the FY 2016 Transportation and HUD Appropriations Bill, please click here.