Competition for American Recovery and Reinvestment Act high-speed-rail funding has grown even more intense. The Federal Railroad Administration reported on Oct. 6 it had received 45 applications from 24 states, seeking a total of about $50 billion for ARRA high-speed-rail corridor grants.
Applications for the corridor funds closed Oct. 2 and represent the second ARRA high-speed-rail grant round. Round one, for individual, ready-to-go projects, drew 214 applications totaling $7 billion from 34 states. The combined $57 billion in requests far exceeds the $8 billion ARRA provided for high-speed rail. FRA “will be announcing all awards this winter,” says Administrator Joseph C. Szabo.
In July, states filed $102.5 billion in rail “pre-applications.” The filings “demonstrated early on...the need clearly outweighs what’s available” in ARRA, says Betsy Imholt, rail study director for the Oregon Dept. of Transportation, which seeks $2.3 billion in round two.
David J. Carol, Parsons Brinckerhoff’s high-speed-rail market leader, sees the final applications as “a good indication of the pipeline for high-speed rail and of those [plans] that are genuinely ready to advance.” He says it is “a much more realistic indicator of what can be done...in the near term” than the pre-application total.
States vying for corridor grants include New York, which is applying for $7.9 billion for projects on the New York City-Buffalo corridor, and North Carolina, which is requesting more than $5 billion for projects from Charlotte to Virginia on a corridor ending in Washington, D.C. Virginia is seeking $1.8 billion for its part of that corridor.
California’s $4.7-billion application includes $2.2 billion for projects on a planned Los Angeles-to-Anaheim segment; $980 million for a San Francisco-San Jose line; and $819.5 million for a Fresno-Bakersfield line. Florida wants $2.6 billion for a new Tampa-Orlando line. Pennsylvania’s $3.1-billion request includes $2.3 billion for the first phase of a Pittsburgh-area magnetic levitation line.