High Speed Rail Moves Forward: Federal Railroad Administration Seeks Applications for $2.3 Billion in High-Speed Rail Grants

WASHINGTON — The Obama Administration has taken the next step toward realizing its vision for high-speed rail in the United States.

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will begin accepting applications for $2.1 billion in grants to continue the development of high-speed intercity passenger rail corridors.

In addition, FRA will make another $245 million available for individual construction projects within a corridor. Funds for both come from the FY 2010 DOT Appropriations Act.

“This important step builds on the $8 billion for high-speed rail that President Obama announced last January,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “The President’s bold vision for high-speed rail is a game changer for U.S. transportation. It will not only create good jobs and reinvigorate our manufacturing base, but also reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.”

“We are excited to move the President’s vision on high-speed rail forward and are working quickly to get money in the hands of states,” said FRA Administrator Joseph C. Szabo. “These new funds will allow the states to further advance their high-speed rail plans and represent a commitment to developing a world-class transportation network.”

Applications and proposals for these latest funds will be due back to FRA by August 6, 2010. Grant awards, including the $2.1 billion and $245 million from the FY2010 appropriations, are expected to be announced by September 30, 2010.

In addition to the President’s $8 billion investment for high-speed passenger rail in the Recovery Act, DOT earlier this spring made available $50 million in planning funds appropriated under the FY 2010 DOT Appropriations Act, and approximately $65 million in construction funds appropriated under the FY 2009 DOT Appropriations Act.

A new report by the U.S. Conference of Mayors found that full construction of high-speed rail networks, in conjunction with healthy metropolitan economies over the next twenty years, and supportive infrastructure investments to allow high speed rail benefits to be realized, in Los Angeles, could create up to $7.6 billion per year in new business and up to 55,000 jobs; in Chicago, up to $6.1 billion per year in new business and up to 42,000 jobs; in Orlando, up to $2.9 billion per year in new business and up to 27,500 jobs; and in Albany, NY, up to $2.5 billion per year in new business and up to 21,000 jobs.