Calif., Fla. Score Big in $2.5B Rail Funding Round
California and Florida together have won nearly 70% of the $2.5 billion for high-speed rail that the U.S. Dept. of Transportation's awarded in its second round of funds for the new program.
The awards, which DOT announced on Oct. 28, would help fund 54 projects in 23 states.
The latest awards follow an initial, $8 billion in DOT high-speed-rail aid, whose winners were selected in January. The first-round money came from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
For the newly announced grants, DOT received 132 applications from 32 states, seeking a total of $8.8 billion for the $2.5 billion available. Competition was even tougher in last year's first round, when DOT received more than $55 billion in requests for the $8 billion available.
In round two, aid for rail corridors accounts for $2.15 billion of the $2.48 billion awarded, DOT reports. Funds for individual rail projects received $278.4 million.
California won the largest amount, receiving $901.6 million. Of that sum, $715 million is designated for a Central Valley rail corridor segment, either Fresno-Bakersfield or Merced-Fresno. The Golden State captured $2.3 billion in the 2009 rail funding round.
Florida ranked second among the winners, with $808 million, including an $800-million second federal installment for a planned Tampa-Orlando line. The state had received $1.25 billion for that route from DOT in the 2009 round.
Among other awardees, Iowa received $230 million for track, signal and station work for planned new service between Iowa City and Chicago.
Michigan received $161 million, including $150 million to buy and upgrade 135 miles of rail line between Kalamazoo and Dearborn. The track now is owned by Norfolk Southern.
The new round is funded through DOT's regular 2010 and 2009 appropriations. The first, ARRA-financed round did not require nonfederal matching money, but the new round mandates that states contribute at least 20% of a project's total cost.
Looking ahead, DOT Secretary Ray LaHood said, "We believe the current Congress, and certainly the President, are totally committed to finding the resources and continuing the resources, for high-speed intercity rail."
For fiscal 2011, the House has approved a DOT spending bill containing a further $1.4 billion for high-speed rail. The Senate Appropriations Committee has cleared a 2011 DOT bill with a high-speed rail allocation of $1 billion.
But there has been no final action on those recommendations, or any other 2011 appropriations yet.