Boise’s Team Dave, U.S. Senator Mike Crapo, and Rep. Mike Simpson are seeking to derail a waiver of Federal Law on some Boston area public transit locomotives.
The politicos cite the Buy America Act as the basis for their letters to the Federal Transit Administration, the agency providing most of the funding for new locomotives for the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority.
With certain exceptions, FTA’s “Buy America” requirements prevent FTA from funding a project unless “the steel, iron, and manufactured goods used in the project are produced in the United States.”
One such exception is if applying the Buy America requirements “would be inconsistent with the public interest.” Boston and the Spanish firm, Vossloh, are seeking a waiver to allow the foreign company to bid. They want to build a couple of prototype engines in Spain at their design and engineering facility.
Without the waiver, Vossloh says the geographic separation between the design-engineering department in Spain and the USA final assembly facility in Mayfield, Kentucky, would result in an unacceptable increase in labor costs to Vossloh for final assembly of two prototype locomotives (to be built in Spain). The waiver for the two units would limit the cost, advance the schedule, and therefore reduce Vossloh’s bid price for the entire procurement of many more locomotives.
Vossloh and MBTA claim such a waiver is in the public interest because it will enable Vossloh “to submit a competitive bid with respect to price and schedule,” and because it will “expand the competitive range to include Vossloh as a compliant bidder.”
The politicos won’t concede their actions are politically motivated, but while Boise may save some jobs at Motive Power, there will be some unhappy Ridgerunners in Mayfield, Kentucky where the Spaniards plan to build the rest of the order which could ultimately be over 50 locomotives. It all boils down to whose ox is being gored.
The politicos welcome a French nuke processing plant at Idaho Falls, but theywould be outraged if powerful democrats in Boston tried to scuttle it for some reason. The Boston locomotives will ultimately be built wherever the most powerful politicos decide they will be built–not necessarily at the lowest price for the best quality.
Ironically, the FTA routinely grants such “Buy America Waivers” waivers for light rail, but not standard gauge trains.
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