Transportation | May 12, 2011 |
Florida’s $2 Billion for High Speed Rail Goes Elsewhere
It’s all over for high-speed rail in Florida.
The Tampa to Orlando line had the backing of everyone from business to the state’s Republican legislators; but Rick Scott, the new Tea Party-backed governor, blocked it as a “big government boondoggle”. Today the Transportation Department announced that the money will go elsewhere.
Scott had claimed that even though the Federal Government was fully funding the project to the tune of $2 billion dollars, the state couldn’t afford what he called “huge operating costs” – this despite the fact that investor groups had guaranteed to cover any overruns or deficits.
What became clear was that this wasn’t about economics, but about ideology - just as in New Jersey and Wisconsin, where Republican governors blocked equally necessary rail programs out of opposition to “big government”.
Florida’s Tampa to Orlando line would have been the first high-speed rail line to be put into operation, and the run from the Orlando airport to the Disney resorts would have guaranteed passengers… but having a successful showpiece was the last thing the anti-rail ideologues wanted. So that’s that.
Instead, the $2 billion will go to parts of the country that are more amenable to rail: The Northeast, the Midwest, and California. And while he was probably disappointed with Florida, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says he’s thrilled to be moving forward the long-term goal of connecting 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail within 25 years.
“Today we are advancing President Obama’s historic high-speed rail blueprint,” LaHood said, “through 22 carefully selected projects that will create jobs, boost manufacturing, and spur development while laying the foundation for our future economic competitiveness. We are providing two billion dollars to 15 states and Amtrak to help build out America’s high-speed rail network, enabling people and goods to travel more quickly, safely and energy-efficiently than ever before.”
LaHood added that this new infrastructure is critical if we’re going to continue America’s growth, while reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and foreign imports.
“If I sound excited about the prospect of American high-speed rail,” said LaHood, “it’s because I am. High-speed intercity passenger rail offers real, practical benefits–benefits we cannot afford to ignore. Jobs, manufacturing, economic development, reduced dependence on foreign oil, and a future economy that can truly serve our population–today’s awards bring those benefits one step closer.”
Where the money’s going:
Northeast Corridor (NEC) – $795 million to upgrade some of the most heavily-used sections of the corridor. The investments will increase speeds from 135 to 160 miles per hour on critical segments.
Midwest - $404.1 for new segments of 110-mph track between Detroit and Chicago that will save 30 minutes in travel time (and create nearly 1,000 new construction jobs). There will also be upgrades to the Chicago to St. Louis corridor.
California - 300 million to extend the Central Valley project, the backbone of the Los Angeles to San Francisco corridor that will ultimately be the nation’s first 220-mph high-speed rail system.
Rail Cars – $336.2 million to boost U.S. manufacturing of state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars for California and the Midwest.
Rail project highlights include:
NORTHEAST CORRIDOR (NEC)
Amtrak – NEC Power, Signal, Track, Catenary Improvements – $450 million to boost capacity, reliability, and speed in one of the most heavily-traveled sections of the Northeast Corridor, creating a 24-mile segment of track capable of supporting train speeds up to 160-mph.
Maryland – NEC Bridge Replacement – $22 million for engineering and environmental work to replace the century-old Susquehanna River Bridge, which currently causes frequent delays for commuters due to the high volume of critical maintenance.
New York – NEC Harold Interlocking Amtrak Bypass Routes – $295 million to alleviate major delays for trains coming in and out of Manhattan with new routes that allow Amtrak trains to bypass the busiest passenger rail junction in the nation.
Rhode Island – NEC Kingston Track, Platform Improvements – $25 million for design and construction of an additional 1.5 miles of third track in Kingston, RI, so high-speed trains operating at speeds up to 150-mph can pass trains on a high-volume section of the Northeast Corridor.
Rhode Island – NEC Providence Station Improvements – $3 million for preliminary engineering and environmental work to renovate the Providence Station. These upgrades will enhance the passenger experience, keep the station in good working order and improve transit and pedestrian connectivity.
Connecticut – New Haven to Springfield Track Construction – $30 million to complete double-track segments on the corridor, bringing added intercity rail service to a route that plays an important role in the region, connecting communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts to the NEC, as well as Vermont.
Massachusetts/Maine – Downeaster Track Improvements – $20.8 million to construct a 10.4-mile section of double track between Wilmington and Andover, MA. Track upgrades will increase schedule performance and dependability for passengers traveling on the Northern New England Downeaster corridor.
New York – Empire Corridor Capacity Improvements – $58 million to construct upgrades to tracks, stations and signals, improving rail operations along the Empire Corridor. This includes replacement of the Schenectady Station and construction of a fourth station track at the Albany – Rensselaer Station, one of the corridor’s most significant bottlenecks.
New York – Rochester Station and Track Improvements – $1.4 million for a preliminary engineering and environmental analysis for a new Rochester Intermodal Station on the Empire Corridor, connecting passengers with additional transit and pedestrian options.
Pennsylvania – Keystone Corridor Interlocking Improvements – $40 million to rebuild an interlocking near Harrisburg on the Keystone Corridor, saving travelers time and improving passenger train schedule reliability.
REGIONAL EQUIPMENT POOLS
Next Generation Passenger Rail Equipment Purchase – This state-of-the-art rail equipment will provide safe and reliable American-built vehicles for passenger travel, while boosting the U.S. manufacturing industry.
- Midwest Corridors – $268.2 million to purchase 48 high-performance passenger rail cars and 7 quick-acceleration locomotives for 8 corridors in the Midwestern States: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri.
- California Corridors – $68 million to acquire 15 high-performance passenger rail cars and 4 quick-acceleration locomotives for the Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, and Capitol Corridors in California.
Illinois – Chicago – St. Louis Corridor – $186.3 million to construct upgrades on the Chicago – St. Louis Corridor between Dwight and Joliet, IL with trains operating at 110 mph for more than 220 miles of track. This investment will reduce trip times, enhance safety and add more seats on the corridor, increasing the number of people who can conveniently travel by train.
Michigan – Kalamazoo-Dearborn Service Development – $196.5 million to rehabilitate track and signal systems, bringing trains up to speeds of 110 mph on a 235-mile section of the Chicago to Detroit corridor, reducing trip times by 30 minutes.
Michigan – Ann Arbor Station Project – $2.8 million for an engineering and environmental analysis to construct a new high-speed rail station in Ann Arbor, MI, that will better serve passengers and allow more than one train to serve the station simultaneously.
Minnesota – Northern Lights Express – $5 million to complete engineering and environmental work for establishing the Northern Lights Express – a high-speed intercity passenger service – connecting Minneapolis to Duluth, with 110-mph high-speed rail service.
Missouri – Merchant’s Bridge Replacement – $13.5 million to advance the design of a new bridge over the Mississippi River on the Chicago to St. Louis Corridor, replacing a bridge built in the 1890s.
North Carolina – Charlotte to Richmond Service Enhancement – $4 million for environmental analysis on the Richmond to Raleigh section of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor (SEHSR). This advances the goal of extending high-speed rail service on the NEC into the southeast, with 110-mph capable service.
Texas – Dallas/Fort Worth to Houston Core Express Service – $15 million for engineering and environmental work to develop a high-speed rail corridor linking two of the largest metro areas in the U.S., Dallas/Fort Worth to Houston.
CALIFORNIA AND NORTHWEST REGION
California – Central Valley Construction Project Extension – $300 million for a 20-mile extension along the Central Valley Corridor. This will continue to advance one of the highest priority projects in the nation that will ultimately provide 220 mph high-speed rail service from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The work funded in this round will extend the track and civil work from Fresno to the “Wye” junction, which will provide a connection to San Jose to the West and Merced to the North.
Oregon – Eugene Station Stub Tracks – $1.5 million for analysis of overnight parking tracks for passenger trains on the southern end of the Pacific Northwest Corridor, adding new capacity for increased passenger and freight rail service.
Washington – Port of Vancouver Grade Separation – $15 million to eliminate a congested intersection and bottleneck between freight and passenger tracks. By elevating one set of tracks over the other, travel along the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor will experience reduced delays and passenger trains will not have to wait for crossing freight traffic.
Reprinted with permission from Gas 2.0