Friday, February 20, 2009

LaHood: We're committed to HSR

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Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood says the Obama Administration is committed to high speed rail not just as a recipient of short-term stimulus funding, but for the long fun as well, and seeks to expand HSR in “five or six regions” in the U.S.

ray-lahood-2LaHood (pictured at left) said that for Obama Administration, HSR is "if not his No. 1 priority, certainly at the top of his list. What the president is saying with the $8 billion is this is the start to help begin high speed rail projects." The President reportedly made sure HSR was included in the $787 billion stimulus package after reports surfaced that no HSR funds were identified in House and Senate versions of the stimulus bill.

LaHood also said the administration "is committed to finding the dollars to not only get them started but to finishing them in at least five parts of the country," although he declined to elaborate on where these projects might ultimately be built.

Industry observers point to California as a leading candidate, since the Golden State has $9.9 billion of its own funds ready to apply to its $44 billion HSR network. California has said it will seek at least $2 billion of the $8 billion offered by the stimulus package for high speed rail.

But Midwest states also are actively seeking funding, as is Florida and Texas, and even Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, disdained by some for being less than truly high speed, may be eligible for future funding to improve its performance capabilities.