Bill Summaries: H643 (2023-2024 Session)

  • Summary date: Apr 17 2023 - View summary

    Enacts new Article 14D, the Passenger Rail Capital and Service Grant Fund (Fund) to GS Chapter 136. Creates the Fund within the Department of Transportation (Department) to enable passenger rail projects to leverage federal funding or other public or private sourced funding by providing technical and financial assistance to sponsors for the development costs of the passenger rail project, to sunset June 30, 2043. Defines passenger rail project and sponsor. Specifies that the minimum amount of funds in the Fund at the start of each year will be $25 million. Requires the Department to transfer $25 million from the Highway Fund to the Fund by July 30 of each year. Specifies that the Funds will not revert except that when Article 14D sunsets, the remaining balance in the Fund will be transferred to the Highway Fund. Allows the Funds’ funds to be used to pay for passenger rail project costs, including crossing safety upgrades, infrastructure, feasibility and environmental studies, project engineering, project vehicles, and recurring operating and maintenance costs. Sets forth cost-sharing percentages for passenger rail projects. Requires the Secretary of Transportation (Secretary) to develop procedures, criteria, and rules for allocating funds from the Funds to passenger rail projects on a competitive basis. Specifies that the following criteria must be met in awarding funds: (1) there is a reasonable likelihood the passenger rail project will qualify for federal funding, or other public or private sourced funding; (2) for projects of not more than 70 miles in system length or that serve three or fewer counties, the total State financial assistance cannot exceed the local portion of the nonfederal share of the capital cost of the passenger rail project; and (3) the passenger rail project will achieve substantial reductions in greenhouse gases as measured by the projected number of motor vehicles taken off of the State highway system by the passenger service offered by the project. Provides for multiyear award allotments not to exceed a period of ten years. Requires the Department to partner with individual sponsors on the development and implementation of new passenger rail projects.