WASHINGTON — The Department of Transportation moved another step closer to realizing President Obama’s vision for high-speed rail in America today, publishing guidelines for states and regions to apply for federal funds as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
“The time has finally come for the United States to get serious about building a national network of high-speed rail corridors we can all be proud of,” Secretary Ray LaHood said. “High-speed rail can reduce traffic congestion and link up with light rail, subways and buses to make travel more convenient and our communities more livable.”
The historic commitment to revitalizing the nation’s rail lines by creating high- speed corridors and improving existing service between cities includes an $8 billion competitive grant program and a continuing $1 billion annual investment proposed in the President’s budget.
“Rail travel will encourage economic growth and create new domestic manufacturing jobs, while reducing pressure on our highways and airways,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph Szabo. “In addition to the economic advantages, trains are energy-efficient, capable of reducing billions of pounds of carbons each year from being released into our atmosphere and reducing our country’s reliance on oil.”
Officials from the USDOT and Federal Railroad Administration met with more than 1,000 people across the country to receive input in preparation for developing the program’s grant application guidelines. Vice President Biden and Secretary LaHood also heard from governors and state transportation chiefs at the White House on June 3 about how they hoped to boost their economies with improved passenger rail service.