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related to Recovery Act spending and allows for the reporting of potential fraud, waste, and abuse.

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Recovery Funds Nation’s First High-Speed Rail Service

Artist's rendition of a high speed rail train, which could reach speeds of 220 miles per hour in some parts of the country.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) recently announced that more than $2 billion in Recovery funds previously rejected by Florida, Wisconsin, and Ohio for development of high-speed intercity rail  service is being redirected to 15 other states.  The largest portions are going to states in the Midwest, the West Coast, and along the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston. 

HSIPR Project Map
Map showing planned routes for high speed rail service.  (Click for larger image)

Recovery Act funds are providing $8 billion of the $10.1 billion total in federal grants awarded to state transportation agencies for development of the nation’s first high-speed intercity rail  service.  The funding covers 83 projects that will build 18 high-speed rail corridors connecting cities across 24 states. Work is already under way in many areas.


In addition to new track and stations and renovation of existing rail infrastructure, the money covers planning costs and the purchase of equipment -- recipients are required to buy only American products and services. Ultimately, DOT officials expect that within 25 years, a national network will provide 80 percent of Americans the choice of traveling to the downtowns of nearby cities by high-speed train, thus significantly reducing automobile commuter traffic.

Six corridors that are the focus of initial funding commitments: 


Using $795 million in rejected Recovery funding, officials are planning upgrades along this heavily trafficked rail line between Boston and Washington, D.C.  The money is being divided among four recipients – Amtrak, New York, Maryland, and Rhode Island. Previously, only New York had received funding for enhancing upstate rail lines.

Amtrak will be improving a 24-mile segment of track between New Brunswick and Trenton in New Jersey so that train speeds can increase from the current top of 135 miles per hour to 160. Maryland will replace the 100-year-old Susquehanna River bridge that currently causes delays due to frequently needed maintenance. New York will construct rail lines that will bypass a delay-plagued section of track through Queens. Rhode Island will build an additional 1.5 miles of track so high-speed trains will be able pass slower traffic.


Crews in Maine removing old joint-tethered railroad track to be replaced with new, continuously welded track for high speed trains.

After passenger rail service ended in 1965, no trains ran between Boston and Portland, Maine for nearly 40 years.  In 2001, Amtrak started the Downeaster Boston-Portland service, which is already Amtrak’s fastest growing line, according to DOT.  A $35 million Recovery grant allows the line to be extended through Freeport and Brunswick in Maine.  DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration says work is already underway: Track is being upgraded on existing segments, improving train speed and the reliability of service, and new track is being laid for the segment from Portland on to Brunswick.  An extension to the Brunswick train station has already been completed, and a new 52-room inn nearby is expected to be done by June 2011.


A total of about $3.6 billion in Recovery grants were originally awarded to California to upgrade existing rail infrastructure and build a new 220-mile-per-hour service including track and equipment like electrical transformers along 520 miles connecting San Francisco, Sacramento, San Jose, Fresno, Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Riverside, Anaheim, and San Diego.  The initial high-speed rail section will be built in the state’s Central Valley region, a north-south finger extending roughly between Redding and Bakersfield. California received an additional $640 million from the rejected funds to buy high-speed locomotives.


Approximately $600 million of original funding was awarded to connect Eugene and Portland, Oregon to Seattle and eventually Vancouver. Trains will operate at speeds up to 150 miles per hour on 13 daily round trips between Seattle and Portland alone.


Originally, Illinois was awarded $100 million for a high-speed line connecting Chicago and St. Louis. But the state was a beneficiary of the rejected money, receiving another $404 million for constructing a line  between Chicago and Detroit.


Using $50 million awarded for the Vermonter New England Central Railroad Route, workers are making track, roadbed, and bridge improvements along a 190-mile segment of the New England Central Railroad which runs between the southern border of Connecticut to the northern border of Vermont.

More Details on High Speed Rail Projects 

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