WASHINGTON — In December, Congress passed the fiscal year 2023 Omnibus Appropriations bill, which will continue funding for the federal government. Appropriators included significant funding for passenger rail and transit grant programs, which came in addition to capital funding included in the five-year Bipartisan Infrastructure bill. The measure includes $2.45 billion for Amtrak — below the $3 billion requested by the White House and the $3.3 billion requested by Amtrak — but $121 million above what Amtrak received in fiscal year 2022.
Also included in the package were what’s called Congressionally Directed Priorities — projects directly sponsored by members of Congress. There were several rail projects included in the bill, according to the Rail Passengers Association. Here are some of the projects that were included:
- $2.1 million for the Hanford (Calif.) Intercity Rail Station Community Safety and Accessibility Enhancement project. The funding will go toward improving the safety, accessibility, and user condition of the Hanford Intercity Rail Station. The station connects travelers from the Central Valley to San Luis Obispo County, as well as to the many rural communities that are served by Amtrak’s San Joaquin trains and Thruway buses.
- $12 million for Connecticut’s New Haven Line track speed improvement Phase 1.
- $10 million for Los Angeles Metro’s proposed West Santa Ana Branch. The West Santa Ana Branch Transit Corridor project is a 19-mile project that Metro is evaluating for a new light rail transit line that would connect southeast Los Angeles County to downtown Los Angeles opening in 2041.
- $7 million for an extension of the Forest Hill (N.Y.) station platform on the Long Island Rail Road.
- $2 million for New River Valley (Va.) Passenger Service Extension. The state hopes to extend passenger rail service from Roanoke to Christiansburg in 2026.
- $1.2 million for the Newport News (Va.) Transportation Center. The $47 million facility, which will serve Amtrak trains, buses, taxis, and airport shuttles is expected to open in fall 2023.
- $1.6 million for Vermont Amtrak Stations Rehabilitation Phase 1.
- $1.8 million for the Bellows Falls (Vt) Intermodal Transportation Center Rehab. It is served by Amtrak’s Vermonter.