U.S. Representative John Carney today praised the Department of Transportation's decision yesterday to designate the Northeast Corridor as the final high-speed rail corridor eligible to apply for the $2.4 billion in rail funding that was rejected by the State of Florida on March 4th.
Secretary Ray LaHood announced the decision in a response to a letter that Rep. Carney sent immediately after Florida's decision was announced, requesting that the funding be made available to the Northeast Corridor. Rep. Carney's letter was co-signed by 37 other members of Congress.
"I applaud Secretary LaHood for his decision to allow the Northeast Corridor to apply for this high-speed rail funding," said Rep. Carney. "The Northeast Corridor has proven to be an important region for high-speed rail, and we will make a compelling case for why the Corridor deserves this funding."
In his letter to Rep. Carney, Secretary Ray LaHood wrote that "this designation will ensure that States in the Northeast Corridor, which spans the mega-region between Boston and Washington, D.C., will be eligible to apply for funding from existing Federal high-speed and intercity passenger rail programs."
The funding was allocated for high-speed rail in the 2009 stimulus and the Obama Administration has made clear that they will send the rejected Florida funding to a different high-speed rail project. The application deadline is April 4th.
Rep. Carney's March 4th letter to Secretary LaHood is below.
The Honorable Ray LaHood
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20590
March 4, 2011
Dear Secretary LaHood,
In light of the State of Florida's re-affirmed decision to reject a $2.4 billion High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program award, we urge you to reprogram this funding to projects along the Northeast Corridor. Our districts stand ready to seize this critical opportunity to improve the speed and efficiency of passenger rail service. Reprogramming the award would create jobs and alleviate congestion in the Northeast, without adding to the current deficit.
As the nation's most densely population transportation corridor, the Northeast Corridor has a well-established passenger rail infrastruture. However, that infrastructure is dated and overburdened. Federal investments could quickly be leveraged to improve mobility in a way that serves not just regional, but indeed national interests.
Simply put, the Northeast Corridor is the strongest candidate for high speed rail investments in this country. Our highways and airports -- from Washington, D.C. to Boston, Massachusetts -- lack the capacity to meet current mobility demands at a level conducive to competitiveness and growth. Americans waste time and fuel making trips along the Northeast that could be undertaken most efficiently by high speed rail.
Amtrak's Acela Express has demonstrated ample demand for high speed American rail service: in its nine-year history, ridership has grown by six hundred percent. Yet we have not made commitments to sufficiently meet that demand. High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail funding in the Northeast Corridor is an effective and responsible way to leverage scarce federal dollars.
The best chance for high speed rail in the United States is to build upon what works. Given the population and economic potential for the region, timely and targeted high speed rail projects are a sound investment that will pay enormous dividends.
We appreciate your consideration of this request, and look forward to continuing to work with you to modernize America's transportation infrastructure.
John C. Carney, Jr. (DE-AL)