There’s more good news for high-speed rail plans in the United States, even as problems plague China’s efforts: The Obama administration has announced that $745 million in funding will go toward upgrades and construction in the heavily populated Northeast Corridor.
Earlier this year, we noted that $2 billion was available for regional rail projects after Florida rejected federal funds earmarked for a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. Recently, California was awarded $179 million for plans mostly concentrated in the southern portion of the state.
The $745 million outlay announced by U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Secretary Ray LaHood includes $450 million that had actually been announced earlier by the department, but was held up when Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-N.J.) sought to divert the money for Midwestern flood relief. According to the latest DOT announcement, that money will in fact be used to upgrade electric systems between Trenton, N.J., and New York City to give trains the future ability to hit speeds of 186 mph.
The rest of the $750 million, roughly $295 million, will be used to create new Amtrak routes out of Manhattan, which the government says will alleviate congestion and create thousands of jobs. Both projects are expected to begin construction in 2012.
In May, we reported that Amtrak was seeking private funding for the Northeast Corridor. A few weeks later, the DOT loaned the government-owned corporation $562 million for new trains. With the latest influx of capital to the Northeast Corridor, by our calculations the region has received well over $1 billion in federal funding for high-speed rail projects from the DOT. Some Republicans have suggested a stronger private business partnership would better benefit citizens and reduce costs, however, the federal government is pressing ahead with its largest investment in the Northeast Corridor to date.