May 9, 2009

LaHood: States on track for rail funds

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says California and Florida are on the fast track for federal funding for high-speed rail systems.

The San Francisco Chronicle reported Saturday that this month he will convene a high-speed rail summit in Washington to review high-speed rail proposals and discuss White House plans to disburse $13 billion in federal aid for rail projects.

LaHood said California is way, way, way ahead in taking steps to build a high-speed rail system that would initially link San Francisco with Los Angeles and Anaheim. Extensions to Sacramento and San Diego would be built later.

In Florida, officials are planning a high-speed line between Tampa and Miami, via Orlando.

The newspaper reported that the Obama administration will award $8 billion in grants under the economic stimulus program approved by Congress this year. In addition, Obama has asked Congress to approve $1 billion annually over the next five years to help bankroll high-speed rail projects.

We want to jump-start several corridors, LaHood said, noting that no single project would receive all of the $8 billion.