Friday, December 11, 2009

$4.1 billion in spending bill for intercity passenger rail

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The $1.1 trillion spending bill approved late Thursday by House-Senate conferees contains $4.1 billion for new and existing intercity passenger rail. Amtrak gets $1.6 billion to maintain and improve its current operations, and $2.5 billion is authorized for high speed passenger rail.

The high speed allocation is a down payment on the $8 billion President Obama pledged early this year for high speed rail corridors. The President's total commitment came to $13 billion with the addition of $1 billion annually for five years as part of the transportation reauthorization process.

Initial high speed grants are expected to be made by February. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said last week that the Federal Railroad Administration has received 45 applications from 24 states to advance major high speed corridor programs. An additional 14 applications have come from 34 states for corridor planning and related projects.

LaHood also said that 30 domestic and foreign suppliers have committed to establish or expand their base of operations in the United States to carry out President Obama's pledge to use stimulus funds to"create good jobs here in America and help reinvigorate our manufacturing base."