U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced last week that the Federal Railroad Administration has received 278 pre-applications for grant funding totaling $102 billion. The money will come from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail competitive grant program.
“The response has been tremendous and shows that the country is ready for high-speed rail,” Secretary LaHood said. “It’s time to look beyond our highways and invest in public transportation services like rail, which will enhance regional mobility and reduce our carbon footprint.”
Forty states and the District of Columbia filed pre-applications. While not all proposed projects can be funded, the Department will work with states and regions to identify priorities and prepare for ongoing high-speed passenger rail development.
Congress passed the Recovery Act, which included an $8 billion competitive grant program as a down payment to develop high-speed and intercity passenger rail networks. The President has proposed a continuing $1 billion annual investment to further this effort.
The Department of Transportation issued a strategic plan for high-speed rail in April 2009, followed by guidelines for states and groups of states to apply for the economic recovery money in June 2009. The Department expects to announce the first round of merit-based grants in the fall.
The final application deadline is August 24 for funding on individual projects and planning, and October 2 for corridor programs.