U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-8), a former long-time member of the House Committee of Transportation, applauded today's decision by the U.S. Department of Transportation to obligate $450 million for Amtrak to boost capacity, reliability, and speed in one of the most heavily-traveled sections of the Northeast Corridor in New Jersey. The funding would allow Amtrak to create a 24-mile segment of track capable of supporting train speeds up to 160-mph. The decision follows Rep. Pascrell's co-signing a bipartisan letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on August 3 that urged the Secretary to expedite obligation of the unspent High Speed Rail stimulus funds that were reprogrammed.
"This decision will translate into jobs created in New Jersey as work begins on projects aimed at providing a more efficient ride for thousands of commuters in our state," said Pascrell, a member of the House Budget Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, who served for a decade on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. "Federal investment in intercity rail infrastructure is a key component of building toward our future economic prosperity, as we help alleviate congestion on the roads and airways in a densely packed part of our nation. I greatly appreciate Secretary LaHood's responsiveness to our request to speed up the commitment of federal funding to the Northeast Corridor to protect these dollars. The federal government again is showing its strong commitment to developing intercity rail as well as mass transit systems throughout our nation."
In May, the U.S. DOT redirected a total of $800 million in unspent stimulus funds for high-speed rail development to the Northeast Corridor, part of a request which the Congressman had strongly supported. However, an amendment adopted to the House-passed Energy and Water Appropriations Bill would redirect $1 Billion in unobligated high-speed rail funds at the end of this year to disaster relief along the Missouri River. Today's announcement ensures that the funding designed for upgrading rail in New Jersey would be safe from that reprogramming.