Political News

NC to share in extra $2B for high-speed rail

Posted May 9, 2011

— Amtrak and rail projects in 15 states, including North Carolina, being awarded the $2 billion that Florida lost after the governor canceled plans for high-speed train service, the Department of Transportation said Monday.

The largest share of the money — nearly $800 million — will be used to upgrade train speeds from 135 mph to 160 mph on critical segments of the heavily traveled Northeast corridor, the department said in a statement..

Another $404 million will go to expand high-speed rail service in the Midwest, including newly constructed segments of 110-mph track between Detroit and Chicago that are expected to save passengers 30 minutes in travel time.

Nearly $340 million will go toward state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars for California and the Midwest. California will also get another $300 million toward trains that will travel up to 220 mph between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

"These projects will put thousands of Americans to work, save hundreds of thousands of hours for American travelers every year, and boost U.S. manufacturing by investing hundreds of millions of dollars in next-generation, American-made locomotives and rail cars," Vice President Joseph Biden said in a statement.

President Barack Obama has sought to make creation a national network of high-speed trains a signature project of his administration. He has said he wants to make fast trains accessible to 80 percent of Americans within 25 years.

The money – initially $2.4 billion – had been awarded to Florida for high-speed trains between Tampa and Orlando. After Gov. Rick Scott canceled the project, the Transportation Department invited other states to bid for the funds. It received 90 applications seeking a total of $10 billion.

North Carolina obtained $4 million of the money, which officials said would pay for an environmental analysis of the route of high-speed trains planned between Raleigh and Richmond, Va.

Scott said he was concerned that the state government would be locked into years of operating subsidies. However, a report by the state's transportation department forecast the rail line would be profitable. The project initially had been approved by Scott's predecessor, Republican-turned-Independent Charlie Crist.

Two other Republican governors elected in November have canceled high-speed train projects in their states. Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker turned down $810 million to build a Madison-to-Milwaukee high-speed line. Ohio Gov. John Kasich rejected $400 million for a project to connect Cincinnati, Cleveland and Columbus with slower-moving trains. Both the Ohio and Wisconsin projects had been approved by the governors' Democratic predecessors.

Republican members of Congress have also opposed funds for high-speed trains, rescinding $400 million of the money previously awarded Florida as well as other unspent money designated for trains in budget deliberations with the administration.

A bill pending in the North Carolina General Assembly would require the state Department of Transportation of obtain legislative approval before spending any of the rail money awarded to the state last year.

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  • kcollier39 May 10, 2011

    some how or another nc tax payers will end up paying.

  • SaltyOldJarhead May 10, 2011

    It takes literally weeks for gas to go to $10/gal and then to unobtainable.

    Rebuilding our country's rail system will take decades, just like the Eisenhower Interstate system did. No private business paid for that but none of the whiners on here will acknowledge the parallel since they use the Interstate every darn day.

    The US is investing what, 10-15 Billion over 15 years? China is spending 350 Billion this year alone on modernizing their rail infrastructure.

    You folks need to wake up and look 15-20 years down the road instead of just past the end of your nose.....

  • DeathRow-IFeelYourPain-NOT May 10, 2011

    At least they're only wasting $4 Million in North Carolina. I've been to Richmond. I've seen Richmond. Its basically Detroit-East. All the high-speed rail would do is give the Richmond criminal element a faster and easier path into the Triangle.

  • ncpilot2 May 10, 2011

    This is further confirmation of the fantasy world our elected officials and some of our citizens in North Carolina live in. This $2 Billion just doesn't fall from Heaven as a gift from God, it's milked from us, the taxpayers. This attitude that it's some kind of "gift" from the Feds is ridiculous.

    The Florida governor is a heck of a lot smarter than ours.

  • hcain73 May 10, 2011

    The FL governor cancelled it because of the upkeep and cost and that the bill would exceed the proposed monies allowed, just as Christie did in NJ. I think its a smart move to stop a project if you know it will go in the red and you cannot fund it.... Am I crazy here???

  • josephlawrence43 May 9, 2011

    Way to go Demos...each passenger on our "high speed rail" system will pay 17% of the cost--the taxpayers 83%. just like AMTRAC --47 out of 50 rail routes lost money--to the tune of $50 Billion last year. The Dems and Bubbles want to strap the citizens of NC with even more debt...

  • Alex25 May 9, 2011

    "I'm all for efficient mass transit and a properly planned rail system, but I'd like to see a detailed analysis of the planned analysis and why it would have to cost $4 million. "

    No such thing exists. This is not market based, it will not be efficient...not anywhere close.

  • davidgnews May 9, 2011

    "North Carolina obtained $4 million of the money, which officials said would pay for an environmental analysis of the route of high-speed trains planned between Raleigh and Richmond, Va."

    I'm all for efficient mass transit and a properly planned rail system, but I'd like to see a detailed analysis of the planned analysis and why it would have to cost $4 million.

    The underlying problem is the runaway train of spending that government has to keep doing, because it will never do anything else regardless of campaign promises. Don't forget the faceless masses you never see, that withstand elections !

  • Alex25 May 9, 2011

    Dig a ditch, fill a ditch Govt work is not real job creation.

    This money has to be taken out of private hands first......where it will always more good.

  • Alex25 May 9, 2011

    Govt's invest for political purposes.

    Businesses invest for economic reasons.

    Do people understand what this means to money and capital formation..??

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