McCormick opposition to infrastructure law could imperil Scranton train project - TAI News
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Dave McCormick, Republican U.S. Senate candidate from Pennsylvania, speaks during a campaign rally at Beerded Goat Brewery in Harrisburg, April 25, 2024. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)

A project to restore train service between Scranton, Pennsylvania, and New York City is currently in the planning stages, but funding could be threatened if Republican efforts to repeal the 2021 federal infrastructure law are successful.

Rail service between the two locations was suspended in 1970, and Pennsylvania officials, led by Democratic Sen. Bob Casey, have advocated for its return over the years since.

“I have fought to restore Scranton rail service for my entire career as a United States Senator, including voting to pass the infrastructure law, because bringing passenger rail service back to my hometown and to our region will be a game-changing force for our economy, our families, and our communities,” Casey said in a December 2023 statement.

The 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, signed into law by President Joe Biden, established the Corridor Identification and Development Program to identify areas in the country where intercity passenger rail could be developed. In December 2023, the Department of Transportation included Northeastern Pennsylvania in the program with an eye to restarting the Scranton–New York line.

But Dave McCormick, the Republican U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania challenging Casey in the 2024 election, has said he opposes the infrastructure law.

“The No. 1 thing you do with a Senate majority and a House majority and a Republican president in the White House is you roll back all those incredible, expensive Biden bills — the infrastructure bill, the Build Back Better — all of that stuff, that’s the money that’s driving this huge uptick in inflation,” McCormick told a radio host in November 2023, the HuffPost reported.

Cutting funding for the Amtrak route could result in an economic hit on Pennsylvania.

Amtrak released a report in March 2023 estimating that the route could generate as much as $84 million in economic activity each year. Amtrak also said that residents along the railway corridor would see other benefits, including increased safety and reliability during travel on rail versus other methods of travel, increased productivity while traveling, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions. “Restoring and expanding this corridor with daily multi-frequency service would dramatically boost mobility and economic development for residents of Scranton and Northeastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and the broader Northeast region,” Amtrak CEO Stephen Gardner said in a statement accompanying the report.

Amtrak estimated that the service would transport 470,000 riders each year.

Beyond the rail project, the infrastructure law has sent significant federal funds to Pennsylvania.According to the White House, $15.8 billion in funding from the law has been announced for the commonwealth so far, going to 455 specific project, which include the replacement and repair of more than 3,000 bridges and over 7,700 miles of highway. The funds have been used to help connect small businesses and families to high-speed internet, replace lead water pipes, and contribute to investments in clean energy, including the replacement of school buses emitting pollutants harmful to children.

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