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Senate approves House bill extending highway funding and critical Positive Train Control deadline

Again, Associated Industries of Missouri (AIM) and the Missouri Transportation Development Council (MTD) call for the passage of a long term highway funding bill. The passage of the Positive Train Control portion of this bill is a victory for everyone working to keep our rail system safe.

From Manufacturing Economy Daily 

The Business Journals (10/29) reports following passage of the bill in the House, the Senate on Wednesday approved a three-week federal highway programs extension, keeping “funds for highways and other surface transportation projects” flowing until November 20. The short-term fix gives Congress more time to negotiate a long-term highway bill, the funding of which lawmakers have been unable to agree on. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons commented on the extension, saying, “These short-term transportation fixes are still no substitute for a well-funded, multiyear reauthorization.” Timmons added, “We can’t continue living crisis to crisis. As America’s infrastructure ages, the nation falls further behind foreign competitors, and manufacturers continue to lose our competitive advantage.”

Meanwhile, the Chicago Tribune (10/29, Wronski) reports that the Senate, as part of the transportation funding bill, passed a measure that gives railroads at least three more years, until Dec. 31, 2018, to implement positive train control (PTC). The House passed the same legislation Monday. Chicago’s Metra welcomed the news of the bill’s passage, with Metra Executive Director/CEO Don Orseno quoted as saying in a statement that the bill “will ultimately enable us to avoid a shutdown of Metra commuter rail service on January 1, 2016.” The Tribune says that a rail shutdown “would have had a huge impact on Chicago, the nation’s rail hub.” The article adds that the Association of American Railroads “hailed” Congress’ action.

The International Railway Journal (10/29, Vantuono, Barrow) reports that the measure, HR 3819, “also gives railways the option to seek a waiver granting an additional two years beyond December 2018 to install PTC,” provided they meet certain milestones. The Journal states that although President Obama said he was displeased with the delay, he is “expected to sign the legislation.”

The National Association of Manufacturers (10/29, Micetich) President and CEO Jay Timmons issued a statement following the Senate’s approval of the short-term highway funding extension and PTC implementation extension, applauded Congress for “avoid[ing] another near crisis that would have catapulted manufacturers into serious economic uncertainty, creating far-reaching harm.” However, Timmons said the NAM will continue to push for “a long-term solution that addresses manufacturers’ needs and promotes sustained economic growth.”

Associated Industries of Missouri is the sole official designated partner of the National Association of Manufacturers in Missouri.

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