When we learned a few days ago Illinois might get a portion of the $2 billion or so available for high speed rail after Florida’s governor rejected it for his state, we wondered when an official announcement might be made on who won the competitive bidding process around these federal dollars. It turns out we didn’t have to wait long to hear, as U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood yesterday let the cat out of the bag.
Secretary LaHood and his agency, the U.S. Department of Transportation, said that 15 states and Amtrak will receive $2.02 billion for 22 high-speed intercity passenger rail projects as part of a nationwide network that reportedly will connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail in 25 years. It is said nearly 100 percent of the awarded funds will go directly to construction of rail projects, bringing expanded and improved high-speed intercity passenger rail service to cities in all parts of the country.
The monies are being spread out around the country, including the previously mentioned Illinois project, $795 million to upgrade sections of the Northeast Corridor, a $336.2 million investment in state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars for California and the Midwest and an additional $300 million for California to help that state lay the groundwork for what reportedly will be the nation’s first 220-mph high-speed rail system.
Even with these funds allocated, however, questions remain about where additional monies will come from to continue a build out of high speed rail around the country. As has been previously mentioned, President Obama offered up high speed rail to the GOP as a sacrificial lamb earlier this year during 2011 budget negotiations. As for beyond, it is anybody’s guess at this point.