Local News

N.C. to get $545M for high-speed rail

Posted January 28, 2010

— North Carolina will get $545 million in federal stimulus funds to speed passenger trains between Charlotte and Raleigh and for connections to Washington, D.C.

The White House said Thursday that $520 million will pay for dozens of projects to upgrade tracks, increase top train speeds to 90 mph and double the number of round trips between the state's two largest cities

About $25 million will go toward rail improvements from Raleigh to Richmond, Va.

Another $75 million would be used for improvements in Virginia to expand the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor from Washington to Atlanta and beyond.

When complete, it will connect to the Northeast High-Speed Rail Corridor, which would connect through Boston and other cities in New England.

The money comes from $8 billion in competitive grants – part of the $787 billion federal stimulus package – distributed among 31 states building 13 high-speed-rail corridors. (See a list of all high-speed rail awards.)

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson said during a ceremony at Durham's renovated train station that the rail improvement projects would mean thousands of jobs.

"Building high-speed rail will put people in North Carolina to work right away, lay the foundation for long-term growth and make travel faster and cheaper," Jackson said, "all while reducing our impact on the environment."

The project is expected to create or maintain 4,800 private-sector jobs in North Carolina and provide environmental and energy benefits through reduced congestion and improved air quality.

The U.S. Federal Railroad Administration says the term "high-speed rail" applies to trains traveling more than 90 mph.

Top speeds from Charlotte to Raleigh could reach 110 mph, averaging 85 mph to 87 mph (current passenger trains average between 46 mph to 48 mph), with an estimated travel time of two to three hours.

State Department of Transportation Secretary Gene Conti said the track from Charlotte to Raleigh is projected to be complete within three years.

"We were looking at a 2017 time frame for rail from Charlotte to Richmond," he said. "That'll be delayed a year or so."

Transportation officials said North Carolina, which applied for $5 billion, fared well in stimulus funding.

Other states, such as California and Florida, received much more. California got more than $2.3 billion for the corridor from Sacramento to San Diego. The line from Tampa to Orlando is getting $1.25 billion.

Announcing the funding last year, President Barack Obama said the United States cannot afford not to invest in high-speed rail travel – already in place in China, Japan, France and Spain – saying it will relieve congestion, help clean the air and save on energy.

"(The) investment is how we can break ground across the country, putting people to work building high-speed rail lines, because there’s no reason why Europe or China should have the fastest trains when we can build them right here in America,” he said Thursday.

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  • homebrewer Jan 29, 2010

    I'd love to drive (or bike a couple of miles when its nice) from my house, park, and get on a train that would take me close to work. I could read a magazine, plug my laptop into the AC power that many trains have and work or surf the web, read a book, drink my coffee, or take a quick nap since I dont have to worry about driving in the worsening traffic day after day here. Perhaps before I board the train I'll stop in a business for a paper and/or coffee. I say a quick hello to the propietor, a once unemployed person who was laid off but now has a new job due to the high-speed rail. I see once laid off construction workers adding a new depot and building a new pedestrian walkway.
    Point is the arguments here have all happened before. Any town; DC, Chicago, NY, Atlanta, Dallas that has this infrastucture sees a benefit. This is laying the foundation for more and better things for NC and specifically RDU. I hope it is managed well and proves to be a wonderful mass transportation system.

  • Bill Brasky Jan 28, 2010

    "Passenger trains have not made a profit in two decades. So why would we throw good money after bad. UNIONS!"

    Neither do roads..

  • prn13norm Jan 28, 2010

    Passenger trains have not made a profit in two decades. So why would we throw good money after bad. UNIONS!

  • wildervb Jan 28, 2010

    "No matter how some posters on here spin it, this high speed railroad will be great for future growth and transportation efficiency of North Carolina. Keep in mind the United States is the only modernized country that does not use rail transportation and it shows during rush hour."

    Also the only modernized country without some form of Universal Health Insurance. I once thought we were a world leader but it doesn't seem that way any more.

  • Bill Brasky Jan 28, 2010

    No matter how some posters on here spin it, this high speed railroad will be great for future growth and transportation efficiency of North Carolina. Keep in mind the United States is the only modernized country that does not use rail transportation and it shows during rush hour.

  • monkeyboy Jan 28, 2010

    "Life is too short to rush."

    this sentence, too, makes my head hurt...

  • smarterthanyou2 Jan 28, 2010

    "it is still free money because your getting money from others for free!"

    Again, you don't understand how unemployment insurance works, but you apparently don't work, so I'm not surprised.

    "So, if you keep putting me down you will regret it because I will defend myself and all disabled people out there."

    I'm not putting you down because you are disabled. I'm putting you down because you are logically bankrupt, uninformed, and borderline a hypocrite.

  • DaddysAngel27 Jan 28, 2010

    Durham-Raleigh - There's another point. You are talking about there will be less trucks on the road. Well, that will be a lot more people without jobs as well. Either way it is a no win situation.

  • DaddysAngel27 Jan 28, 2010

    The train is a waste of money. That's way too much money to spend on something that everyone in the state cannot benefit from. Besides, that's why I have a car. I can come and go as I please and stop where and when I want to. :) I love driving, it's a wonderful privilege if not taking advantage of by unsafe drivers.

  • Durham-Raleigh Jan 28, 2010

    I never ceased to be amazed by the logic-free commenting and lack of perspective at GOLO.

    First off: these rails aren't dedicated solely to passenger use. Yes, they'll speed it up -- but they'll also improve freight capacity, helping the economy. Word is the CLT-GSO segment was chosen since it's the densest with passengers AND freight.

    2) Railroads are a "gummint boondoggle?" Are y'all mad? The NCRR corridor is PUBLICLY OWNED. It contributes to the viability of our ports, our freight shipments. It reduces traffic of trucks and goods on the roads. It formed the backbone for tobacco's transport and our cities grew up around them.

    3) We spend billions of dollars on roads - almost $1b for a 19 mile toll road. Here we'll spend half that to unclog a corridor 150 miles in length.

    4) As a traveler, I love trains. I can be productive on them (laptop and phone) and not stuck in a car trying to drive somewhere.

    Sad.

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