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Federal Railroad Administration Seeks Applications for $2.3B in High-Speed Rail Grants

29 June 2010

The US Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will begin accepting applications for $2.1 billion in grants to continue the development of high-speed intercity passenger rail corridors. In addition, FRA will make another $245 million available for individual construction projects within a corridor. Funds for both come from the FY 2010 DOT Appropriations Act.

Applications and proposals for these latest funds will be due back to FRA by 6 August 2010. Grant awards, including the $2.1 billion and $245 million from the FY2010 appropriations, are expected to be announced by 30 September 2010.

In addition to the President’s $8 billion investment for high-speed passenger rail in the Recovery Act, DOT earlier this spring made available $50 million in planning funds appropriated under the FY 2010 DOT Appropriations Act, and approximately $65 million in construction funds appropriated under the FY 2009 DOT Appropriations Act.

A new report by the US Conference of Mayors found that full construction of high-speed rail networks, in conjunction with healthy metropolitan economies over the next twenty years, and supportive infrastructure investments to allow high speed rail benefits to be realized, in Los Angeles, could create up to $7.6 billion per year in new business and up to 55,000 jobs; in Chicago, up to $6.1 billion per year in new business and up to 42,000 jobs; in Orlando, up to $2.9 billion per year in new business and up to 27,500 jobs; and in Albany, NY, up to $2.5 billion per year in new business and up to 21,000 jobs.

The Notices of Funds Availability (NOFA) are available at: http://www.fra.dot.gov/Pages/477.shtml.

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1. High speed rail along components of the DC-Richond-RTP-Charlotte-Atlanta corridor.
2. Improvements on the BOS-DC corridor.

Please please please please please. The former, if done well, will change train ridership from exclusively poor and generally black to that *and* upper class generally white. Suddenly you'll see some Southern GOP support for Amtrak. Now you've got more votes, and more funding in general to expand the system even more. They resent (2), so give 'em (1).

But do some of (2) too. Improving speed, reliability, and capacity to the one segment of Amtrak which brings in more revenue than costs only makes sense.

Once you get a segment that people use that reduces road traffic, we might see more of these. There are some specific corridors where they would do the most good initially and from then on it is on an as needed basis.

Some 100+ corridors totaling 21,000+ miles could be a good starting goal towards catching up with Eu and China.

I think many Americans still see American public transporation as a mode of transportation used by the dregs of society and wrought with drugs, gangs and crime...subway train cars and stations loaded with graffiti, panhandlers and homeless with empty 40 oz. beer bottles wrapped in brown bags all over the place - and a faint smell of urine in the air. Obviously it's not entirely true...but implementing European / Japanese style public transportation here in the US and keeping it clean everywhere, as a whole, will be challenging.

Improvements in rail infrastructure and any HSR projects need more reliable financing and commitment than pie-in-the-sky grants. The EU and China and Japan have shown what it takes over the course of decades, 100s of $Billions.

The only way we get close is to generate more revenue from fuel or imported crude. This would help transition to alternative energy solutions as well. Policy simply cannot be made with this country dependent on fluctuating(cheap now?)crude oil prices.

The History Channel had a documentary called "Crude" that told the story of how we became oil addicted. We did it to ourselves and few questioned the path that we were being led down. It is well past time that we took action and changed direction for the better. If this is a cost effective way, then I am all for it.

As a libertarian-republican I can even argue for a strategic need for high speed rail as an alternate option to driving or flying. We could have a nuclear/wind powered train system that produces no emissions while providing easy tranportation....

But, 2.3billion dollars will not do it the right way unless you focus the entirety on one project. Nickel and diming projects for these 79mph or even 110mph trains will do nothing to improve the image of train travel. If they started by improving the Acela to a 200mph train... that would be a good way to demonstrate the technology as well as the comfort/convenience over driving or flying.

Tampa-Orlando was a good start... but they wasted money in Ohio for the '3C' line that won't get used.

"Tampa-Orlando was a good start... but they wasted money in Ohio for the '3C' line that won't get used."

Pork barrel spending.

We do what we can with what we have. Some will say that we should have an all out effect and then complain about taxes. A lot of people need to make up their minds, in some cases you can NOT have your cake and eat it too.

We are currently too profit and cost minded to use highly efficient (clean) very high speed e-rains.

The best ways to change the equation may be:

1) Progressively raise the cost to drive with more fuel taxes and registration (road usage) fees. Progressively increase airport, flight control and navigation fees.

2) Educate people (from kindergarten up) not to use trains as their S... H.....

3) Build many very high speed (VHS) e-train corridors (up to 50,000 miles) over the next 20 years or so.

4) Operate those trains at a lost for a few years.

5) Automate (all) operations to reduce on-going cost.

6) All Security cost should be offset with appropriate fines to bad users.

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