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California, Illinois, Amtrak are among recipients of high-speed rail funds

(The following appeared on the Los Angeles Times website on May 9, 2011.)

LOS ANGELES — California, Illinois and 13 other states, along with Amtrak, will share $2 billion in federal grants aimed at developing high-speed rail service, money that had been rejected by Florida, officials announced on Monday.

The grants were announced by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. The winners were chosen from among 100 applications by 24 states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak.

Of Monday's awards, Amtrak, the nation's passenger rail service, will receive $795 million for work on the northeast corridor that links Washington through New York to Boston. More than $400 million will go to high-speed service in the Midwest, including a Chicago-Detroit connection, and $300 million is directed at advancing the San Francisco-Los Angeles link.

Almost $3.5 billion in federal funds has now been committed for the California high-speed train project -- the first segment of which is planned for the Central Valley. Combined with state matching funds, rail officials say the state will have $6.33 billion to invest in the line.

The grant will be awarded to the California High Speed Rail Authority to extend the current proposed Central Valley route an additional 20 miles, they said.

The Central Valley route would eventually provide 220 mph high-speed rail service from Los Angeles to San Francisco. The work funded in this round will extend the track and civil work from Fresno to the “Wye” junction, which will provide a connection to San Jose to the West and Merced to the north, according to the federal Department of Transportation.

A separate grant of $68 million will be used for 15 high-performance passenger rail cars and four quick-acceleration locomotives for the Pacific Surfliner, San Joaquin, and Capitol corridors in California, the DOT stated.

The Chicago to St. Louis corridor will get $186.3 million to construct upgrades between Dwight and Joliet, Ill., with trains operating at 110 mph for more than 220 miles of track. "This investment will reduce trip times, enhance safety and add more seats on the corridor, increasing the number of people who can conveniently travel by train," the DOT stated.

Another $268.2 million will be used to purchase 48 high-performance passenger cars and seven quick acceleration locomotives for eight corridors in the Midwest, the agency said.

Full story: Los Angeles Times

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

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