States seeking the $2.4 billion in federal high-speed rail funds that Florida's governor turned down will have to file new applications with the U.S. Dept. of Transportation.

The deadline is tight: DOT Secretary Ray LaHood announced late on March 11 that the deadline for applications for the funds is April 4.

U.S. DOT had awarded the $2.4 billion to Florida last year, but the state's new governor, Rick Scott [R], turned it down.

There is likely to be no shortage of competition for the money. LaHood said, "States across the country have been banging down our door for the opportunity to receive additional high-speed rail dollars...."

For example, U.S. Senators from several states along Amtrak's Northeast Corridor have made a pitch for the funds directly to LaHood, in a February letter and a March 9 face-to-face meeting.

The decision to call for applications is a change from how U.S. DOT redistributed $1.2 billion in rail funds that two other new Republican governors, Ohio's John Kasich and Wisconsin's Scott Walker, rejected late last year.

In that instance, LaHood didn't ask states to apply, or re-apply. Instead U.S. DOT reviewed requests states had filed earlier for the department's two rounds of high-speed rail grant awards.

LaHood announced the reallocations of the Ohio and Wisconsin funds on Dec. 9. California was awarded the largest portion, receiving $624 million.