TAMPA, FL – President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden announced that the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is awarding $8 billion to states across the country to develop America’s first nationwide program of high-speed intercity passenger rail service. The awards are funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). View a full list of the awards here.
“Through the Recovery Act, we are making the largest investment in infrastructure since the Interstate Highway System was created, putting Americans to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, and waterways for the future,” said President Obama. “That investment is how we can break ground across the country, putting people to work building high-speed rail lines, because there’s no reason why Europe or China should have the fastest trains when we can build them right here in America.”
The awards are expected to begin development of 13 new, large-scale high-speed rail corridors across the country. The major corridors are part of a total of 31 states receiving investments, including smaller projects and planning work that will help lay the groundwork for future high-speed intercity rail service. The grants are not only expected to have an up-front job and economic impact, but help spur economic growth in communities across the country, provide faster and more energy-efficient means of travel, and establish a new industry in the United States that provides stable, well-paid jobs.
The $8 billion investment is expected to create or save tens of thousands of jobs over time in areas like track-laying, manufacturing, planning and engineering, and rail maintenance and operations. More than 30 rail manufacturers, both domestic and foreign, have agreed to establish or expand their base of operations in the United States if they are hired to build America’s next generation high-speed rail lines.
Moast of the ARRA funding will go toward developing new, large-scale high-speed rail programs. This includes projects in Florida, which is receiving as much as $1.25 billion to develop a new high-speed rail corridor between Tampa and Orlando with trains running as fast as 168 miles per hour; and in California, which is receiving as much as $2.25 billion for its planned project to connect Los Angeles to San Francisco and points in between with trains running as fast as 220 miles per hour.
In April 2009, the Administration released a long-term plan for high speed rail in America. In addition to the $8 billion awarded today, the plan also included $1 billion a year for five years in the federal budget as a down payment to jump-start the program. Applicants submitted more than $55 billion in project proposals for the initial $8 billion in funds just awarded.
"This historic day is the culmination of more than a decade of work by state DOTs across the country to revive passenger rail as a major transportation option in America," said Gene Conti, secretary of the North Carolina Department of Transportation and Chair of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Standing Committee on Rail. "This is also only the beginning of that resurgence. States stand ready to plan, build, and deliver high speed rail for the United States."
A new AASHTO website launched in conjunction with the grant announcement, www.highspeed-rail.org, provides a one-stop shop for information on high-speed rail and state intercity passenger rail service.