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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

Northeast senators state their case for Florida's HSR funds


Yesterday, a group of senators from Northeastern states sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood requesting that he redirect the $2.4 billion in high-speed intercity passenger rail program funds that will likely be rejected by Florida Gov. Rick Scott to projects along the Northeast Corridor.

LaHood has given Scott until March 4 to review a proposal crafted by local elected officials in Florida that calls for creating an independent regional agency to oversee the Tampa-Orlando project, and contract a private-sector consortium to design, build, finance, operate and maintain the line. However, Scott previously turned down the proposal and has said he still believes Florida taxpayers could be responsible for project cost overruns.

If Scott elects to reject the federal funds, the U.S. Department of Transportation plans to redistribute the money to other states. Northeastern states are ready to put the money to work, the senators said in their letter.

“Improving passenger-rail service on the Northeast Corridor is necessary to accommodate the 60 percent increase in passengers expected by 2030 and will alleviate severe congestion on the region’s highways and airspace,” they wrote. “High-speed rail’s potential on the Northeast Corridor is proven. For example, ridership on the Acela Express has risen 600 percent during its nine years of service.”

The Northeast Corridor received less than 2 percent of the $10.5 billion available for high-speed funds to date, the senators added.

“We believe that this is an insufficient investment in the Northeast Corridor, given our region’s position as a population and economic mega-region,” they said.

The letter was signed by Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), John Kerry (D-Mass.), Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.), Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) and Barbara Milkulski (D-Md.)

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 3/1/2011