The stimulus package's $8 billion for high-speed-rail is starting to flow. The U.S. Dept. of Transportation on May 27 announced it had released  the first $79.6 million of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act's federal funding for HSR.

Only $7.92 billion to go.

DOT in January had announced how it planned to divide the $8 billion, but had not actually sent any of the money to the states.

Florida receives the largest share of DOT's funding disbursement, $66.6 million for program management and preliminary engineering for its planned Tampa-Orlando line. That's a small portion of Florida's total ARRA rail award of $1.25 billion.

Other states receiving funding under DOT's initial disbursement include California, which gets $6.2 million for track relocation between San Francisco and Sacramento. The state's total HSR award will be more than $2.3 billion.

Wisconsin receives $5.7 million for environmental assessments of new stations planned between Milwaukee and Madison.

New York state gets $1 million to plan projects on the Empire Corridor from New York City to Buffalo.

New Mexico receives $100,000 to develop the state's first rail plan.

Beyond the $8 billion from the stimulus legislation, DOT has a further $1.2 billion for high-speed rail thanks to its regular 2010 appropriations.

The Federal Railroad  Administration plans to launch the competition for that additional $1.2 billion with a funding availability notice. Karen Rae, FRA's deputy administrator has said that notice probably would be issued in late spring.