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September 08, 2010

Obama unveils $US 50 billion infrastructure plan

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THE UNITED STATES could invest $US 50 billion in infrastructure projects over a six year period as part of a proposal for $US 200 billion in tax breaks unveiled yesterday by President Barack Obama.

The plan includes 6400km of new or upgraded railways, rebuilding 240,000km of highway and reconstructing 240km of airport runway.

A key feature of the plan is the creation of an infrastructure bank to support public-private partnerships in large projects, a significant shift in the structure of transport investment. "This marks an important departure from the federal government's traditional way of spending on infrastructure through earmarks and formula-based grants that are allocated more by geography and politics than demonstrated value," says Obama. "Instead, the bank will base its investment decisions on clear analytical measures of performance, competing projects against each other to determine which will produce the greatest return for American taxpayers."

If approved, the measures would allow national passenger rail operator Amtrak to continue its fleet renewal programme. In a statement Amtrak said: "President Obama's infrastructure investment plan to advance the development of a high-speed rail network and modernize Amtrak's intercity passenger rail fleet is a smart move with major benefits. The President understands passenger rail is a key component of America's transportation system and connects the nation in ways no other mode can. We applaud his vision for the future and his commitment to make the needed investments now to advance and bring to reality the next generation of passenger rail."

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