Even as Europe and other parts of the world embrace high speed rail, the U.S. has continued to stumble in the dark around this alternative form of transportation. We’ve witnessed projects in Europe like solar energy powering part of a high speed train system, wondering when America might move in the same direction. This looks to be the year that turns around however, as the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has announced $2.4 billion in federal dollars will go towards planning and construction of intercity passenger rail service. This is on top of funds previously released for such ventures.
54 high-speed rail projects in 23 states will receive a portion of this funding. A huge chunk of this – $901 million – is going to California for the construction of new high-speed rail lines in the Central Valley. Another $800 million as well will go to Florida for the Tampa to Orlando high-speed rail corridor. The money, said the DOT, is being awarded for a range of activities, such as construction of track and stations, purchase of new passenger equipment, and planning studies to develop new high-speed rail service.
These monies announced today come on top of $8 billion that was flooded into high speed rail development earlier this year. The Department’s Federal Railroad Administration said it received 132 applications from 32 states totaling $8.8 billion, more than three times the $2.4 billion available.
More than 30 rail manufacturers and suppliers, both domestic and foreign, have agreed to establish or expand their bases of operations in the United States if they are hired to build the high-speed lines, said the DOT as well.
“Demand for high-speed rail dollars is intense and it demonstrates just how important this historic initiative is,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. “States understand that high-speed rail represents a unique opportunity to create jobs, revitalize our manufacturing base, spur economic development and provide people with an environmentally friendly transportation option.”
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