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Monday, October 05, 2009

North Carolina submits second round of HSR applications

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North Carolina Gov. Bev Perdue said that the state submitted the second round of high-speed rail applications for competitive funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. North Carolina is applying for funds totaling more than $5 billion for four projects to help further develop the federally designated Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor.

"These projects are critical for communities throughout our state," Perdue said.  "North Carolina's commitment to rail puts us in strong contention for these funds."

These four projects will increase service frequency and reliability, reduce travel times and improve safety by adding double track, passing sidings and constructing bridges that separate the highway from rail. These track improvements would lay the foundation to deploy trains at top speeds of 90-110 miles per hour on the nearly 500-mile long corridor between Charlotte and Washington, D.C.

The state partnered with Virginia to complete a corridor development plan connecting Charlotte, Greensboro and Raleigh, N.C., with Richmond, Va., and Washington, D.C., to provide frequent, reliable passenger trains that can travel at top speeds of 90-110 mph. The N.C. Department of Transportation worked with the North Carolina Railroad Company, Norfolk Southern, CSX Transportation and Amtrak to complete the applications.

The merit-based funding will be awarded in early 2010. According to the White House Council of Economic Advisors, if funded, construction and operation of SEHSR will help retain or create an estimated 60,000 jobs over a seven-year period.

On September 1,Gov. Perdue announced that NCDOT submitted applications for six "ready to go" projects. Those applications totaled more than $75.9 million dollars and included a commitment of more than $16 million in matching funds. Awards will be made before the end of this year.

ARRA will provide $8 billion in competitive funding for high-speed rail corridors across the country. Congress will vote later this year on additional appropriations to continue development of the high-speed rail program. North Carolina's Congressional delegation wrote USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood endorsing the development of SEHSR and requesting the agency issue a Letter of Intent to complete the project.

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