Today, I and Senator Barbara A. Mikulski, joined with Senators Tom Carper (D-DE), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Chris Coons (D-DE), Kirsten E. Gillibrand (D-NY), John F. Kerry (D-MA), Frank R. Lautenberg (D-NJ), Joseph I. Lieberman (I-CT), and Robert Menendez (D-NJ), writing to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to request that the $2.4 billion in High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program funds rejected by the State of Florida be redirected to high-speed rail projects on the Northeast Corridor. Secretary LaHood has stated that a new sponsor for the funds in Florida must be identified before March 4, 2011 or the funds will be redistributed to other states. The Senators noted that while the Northeast Corridor accounts for roughly one-fifth of the nation's gross domestic product and twenty percent of the nation's population and has the nation's only operating high-speed train, to date it has received less than two percent of the $10.5 billion provided by Congress for the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program.
As we work to support job creation and economic growth, it is important that we make smart investments - like in our nation's transportation infrastructure - that will encourage future prosperity and ensure that America remains competitive in the global economy. With its large population and high economic activity, the Northeast Corridor is well-positioned to lead the nation into the future of high-speed rail transportation. If another project sponsor in Florida is not found, our states stand ready to put the unwanted funds to good use to improve our existing high speed rail service, create jobs, and reduce congestion and air pollution.