Specter, Casey Meet with Transportation Secretary LaHood
Today, U.S. Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey met with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood regarding funding for Pennsylvania high speed rail projects. Congressmen Paul Kanjorski and Tim Holden also joined the meeting.
"The meeting with Secretary LaHood was a productive one and I'm optimistic that Pennsylvania's important high speed rail projects will receive the support they need to advance," Specter said. "The Lackawanna Cutoff is vital to the long-term economic vitality of Northeastern Pennsylvania, and supporting Maglev is critical to developing the next generation of passenger rail technology."
"These projects will create jobs in the short-term and promote economic growth in the long-term," said Senator Casey. "We had a frank discussion with the Secretary about the importance of reestablishing passenger rail services in Northeastern Pennsylvania. State and federal partners need to come together on this project. I am committed to working with local officials to advance this effort. We also had a chance to discuss how the Department can play a role in moving forward on the proposed Maglev project in Pittsburgh."
During the meeting, the Senators discussed the economic benefits of the Lackawanna Cutoff and advocated for the Department of Transportation to support this project through upcoming funding opportunities. The Senators, with the Department of Transportation, planned a follow up meeting with federal and state partners to advance these efforts. In addition, Specter and Casey discussed the benefits of Maglev as an investment in next-generation technology. The Senators urged LaHood to expedite the delivery of the $28 million in funding that the Federal Railroad Administration awarded to the project in September 2009.
The meeting comes on the heels of last week's announcement from the administration regarding funding for high speed rail. The Recovery Act included $26.4 million for the Pennsylvania's Keystone Corridor to improve the rail service between Harrisburg and Philadelphia, as well as funding for a feasibility study for high speed rail service between Harrisburg and Pittsburgh. Funding to reestablish rail service between Scranton and New York City, as well as for Maglev in Pittsburgh, was not included.
Senators Specter and Casey immediately set a meeting with Secretary LaHood to discuss the omissions as outlined in a letter they sent to the Department of Transportation on Thursday, January 28, 2010.