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PennDOT says it will fund Amtrak's Pittsburgh-Harrisburg line

| Wednesday, July 3, 2013, 11:45 a.m.

Pennsylvania will uphold a $3.8 million commitment to Amtrak to help keep passenger rail service running between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, a PennDOT spokesman says.

It remains unknown how PennDOT will fulfill its promises to provide Port Authority with $30 million in emergency funding and $4 million to preserve eight transit programs across Pennsylvania that help low-income residents commute to suburban jobs.

A month and a half ago, state officials said a deal to save Amtrak's Pennsylvanian route hinged on legislators passing a plan to boost transportation funding. That effort fell apart Sunday as the House balked at a $2 billion funding proposal.

Gov. Tom Corbett said the issue could be revived in September.

“We're going to continue to honor that commitment to keep those services running. We're able to do that,” PennDOT spokesman Steve Chizmar said Tuesday of the Amtrak subsidy, which the railroad sought because a change in federal law requires it and state governments to share costs for routes up to 750 miles.

The Pennsylvanian runs between Pittsburgh and New York, providing the only passenger rail service between Western Pennsylvania and Harrisburg.

Spokeswoman Erin Waters-Trasatt said the money will come from a pot of about $20 million in uncommitted transit money.

Waters-Trasatt said PennDOT has not decided what to do with what will remain — about $16.4 million.

Port Authority received the $30 million in emergency money for the first time in the fiscal year that ended June 30 in exchange for worker concessions. Distributed in several installments throughout the year, it helped prevent service and job cuts.

Tom Fontaine is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7847 or tfontaine@tribweb.com.

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