Thursday, July 16, 2009

HSR pre-applications worth $102 billion chase $13 billion

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U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood Thursday said the Federal Railroad Administration has received 278 pre-applications for grant funding totaling $102 billion.

"The response has been tremendous and shows that the country isready 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.”

The desire to invest outstrips the current fiscal ability,since the pre-applications’ fiscal requests far exceed the $8 billion coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), more commonly known as the federal stimulus package, for the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail competitive grant program.

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Even including the pledge by the Obama Administration to back an additional $5 billion for high speed rail funding in coming years through the congressional appropriations process, bolstering the amount available to $13 billion, the current supply of funds measures only 12.7% of the submitted demand. 

FRA broke down the pre-applications by region as follows:

Northeast: total number of pre-applications submitted, 79; total requested funds, $35 billion.

South/Southeast: total number of pre-applications submitted, 44; total requested funds: $16 billion

Midwest: total number of pre-applications submitted, 47; total requested funds, $13 billion.

West: total number of pre-applications submitted, 108; total requested funds: $38 billion.

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DOT said 40 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 rail development.
 
DOT 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.  

More information is available at the FRA website, www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/31.