Bill would help finance commuter rail projects

February 25, 2020 GMT

NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — U.S. Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire is sponsoring a commuter rail-funding bill that would help states secure low-interest loans for rail projects.

The “Invest in American Railroads Act” is co-sponsored by U.S. Rep. Chris Pappas, also a Democrat from New Hampshire, and Republican U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker of Pennsylvania.

The Telegraph of Nashua reports Kuster said Monday that loans would have an interest rate below 2% with terms that can be extended beyond the usual 35 years, to as long as 50 years.

The funding could help New Hampshire pay for the long-discussed Capitol Corridor Project, which would connect Concord, Manchester and Nashua to Boston via commuter rail.

“Passenger rail will be a gamechanger for New Hampshire, helping to spur economic competitiveness and help keep Granite Staters from spending hours sitting in traffic,” Kuster said.

The bill would make improvements to the Railroad Rehabilitation and Improvement Financing Program, created by Congress in 1998 to support the development of passenger and short-line railroads by authorizing funds to rehabilitate or build new track, bridges and rail yards.

Pappas said the bill would make it easier for the state to “undertake ambitious rail projects that improve our regional economies and create good-paying jobs.”