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RAIL EMPLOYMENT



Rail News Home Passenger Rail

4/16/2009



Rail News: Passenger Rail

Obama Administration releases strategic plan to prompt high-speed rail development


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The Obama Administration has set aside federal stimulus dollars and voiced support for developing high-speed rail systems nationwide. Today, the Administration took another step toward advancing those systems by releasing a strategic high-speed rail plan, which identifies the potential beneficiaries of the $8 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds and budgets an additional $1 billion annually for five years for the systems.

The Administration plans to follow up with detailed guidance for state and local applicants. By late summer, the Federal Railroad Administration will begin awarding the first round of grants. Additional funding for long-term planning and system development is expected to be included in the federal surface transportation program reauthorization, Administration officials said in a prepared statement.

The strategic plan identifies 10 high-speed rail corridors as potential recipients of federal funding:
• the California Corridor (including stops in the Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles and San Diego);
• Pacific Northwest Corridor (with stops in Eugene and Portland, Ore., Tacoma and Seattle, Wash., and Vancouver, British Columbia);
• South Central Corridor (with stops in Tulsa and Oklahoma City, Okla., Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio, Texas, and Little Rock, Ark.);
• Gulf Coast Corridor (with stops in Houston, New Orleans, Mobile and Birmingham, Ala., and Atlanta);
• Chicago Hub Network (with stops in Chicago, Milwaukee, the Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Mo., Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati, Ohio, Indianapolis and Louisville, Ky.);
• Florida Corridor (with stops in Orlando, Tampa and Miami);
• Southeast Corridor (with stops in Washington, D.C., Richmond, Va., Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C., Atlanta, Macon and Savannah, Ga., Columbia, S.C., and Jacksonville, Fla.);
• Keystone Corridor (with stops in Philadelphia, Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pa.);
• Empire Corridor (with stops in New York City, Albany and Buffalo, N.Y.); and
• Northern New England Corridor (with stops in Boston, Montreal, Portland, Maine, Springfield, Mass., New Haven, Conn., and Albany, N.Y.).

Under the plan, high-speed rail development will advance either as corridor programs, individual “ready to go” projects or cooperative initiatives. In addition, the administration and U.S. Department of Transportation are urging states and local communities to develop plans for a network of 100- to 600-mile high-speed rail corridors that could compete for federal dollars. A merit-driven process will result in federal grants as soon as late summer, administration officials said.

“My high-speed rail proposal will lead to innovations that change the way we travel in America. We must start developing clean, energy-efficient transportation that will define our regions for centuries to come,” said President Obama. “High-speed rail is long-overdue, and this plan lets American travelers know that they are not doomed to a future of long lines at the airports or jammed cars on the highways.”


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