Nearly $80 million in high-speed rail funds delivered to states

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The U.S. Department of Transportation said that nearly $80 million in grants have been delivered to states as part of President Obama's historic high-speed and intercity passenger rail program. These grants will go toward the development of a brand new Recovery Act funded high-speed rail system in Florida as well as critical upgrades to existing passenger rail service throughout the country.

"Delivering these
funds is an important step forward in our efforts to upgrade and transform
America’s transportation system, while spurring economic activity and creating
jobs here at home," said Vice President Joe Biden. "Our unprecedented
investment in high-speed and intercity passenger rail is not only going to
provide real environmental benefits and greater convenience for travelers, but
also long-term economic development for communities across the country."

"The President’s
vision for high-speed rail will forever change the way Americans travel by
offering new transportation options," said Transportation Secretary Ray
LaHood.  "The grants released today are merely the very beginning of
many more to follow."

The $80 million in
funding will benefit projects in many regions of the country, including:

• $66,600,000 for
program management and preliminary engineering on the planned 168-mph
high-speed rail service between Tampa and Orlando, Florida. This project will
create jobs and generate economic activity as 84 miles of track are
constructed, stations are built or enhanced, and equipment is purchased. Along
with California, Florida was the only state to submit plans to the Department
of Transportation to create a brand new, high-speed rail line.

• $6,200,000 for
track relocation work in California on the Capitol Corridor which will help
bring about fewer delays and faster travel times along a route that connects
San Francisco and Sacramento, the state capital.

• $5,700,000 for
environmental assessments of planned new stations on the route between Milwaukee
and Madison, Wis., that will host passenger rail service operating at speeds up
to 110 mph.

• $1,000,000 for
planning projects to improve service on the Empire Corridor in New York state.
The 468-mile Empire Corridor connects all of New York’s largest cities. The
near-term vision for the corridor is to increase passenger train speeds to 110 mph.

• $100,000 for the
creation of the first-ever rail plan for the state of New Mexico. This plan
will help the state create a blueprint for passenger rail development that will
eventually link major cities in the Southwest.

The President’s $8 -billion
down payment for high-speed rail, which was set in motion through a long-term
plan announced in April 2009, is expected to create or save tens of thousands
of jobs over time in areas like track-laying, manufacturing, planning,
engineering, and rail maintenance and operations.  The majority of the
President’s Recovery Act passenger rail funding will go toward developing new,
large-scale high-speed rail programs.

In addition to the $8
billion in Recovery Act funding, the Administration proposes a minimum $1
billion a year for five years in the federal budget to jump-start this
multi-decade effort. Congress funded this program above and beyond the
President’s initial request and allocated $2.5 billion for Fiscal Year 2010.

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