Federal Government to Announce $115 Million for Rail Planning

From MassTransitMag.com

Pittsburgh Tribune Review

PENNSYLVANIA – The Federal Railroad Administration will make $115 million available tomorrow for planning and designing high-speed rail projects around the country, officials said.

FRA spokesman Rob Kulat said the funding will be announced in the Federal Register, allowing states to compete for a piece by sending in their proposals for fast passenger trains between cities.

Unlike the $8 billion in federal stimulus money for high-speed passenger rail projects that went mostly to "shovel-ready" projects in Florida, California and the Midwest, this money is set aside for projects that are still in the early phases of development.

"Most of it is for planning, which is what a lot of the states need — environmental planning, designs, engineering," Kulat said.

About $65 million of the money was left over from the railroad administration's 2009 budget, while the other $50 million was set aside in this year's budget, he said.

Pennsylvania got $26.4 million from the last round of passenger rail stimulus money in January, mostly to pay for improvements that will increase speed for the trains that run between Harrisburg and Philadelphia. The state also got a $750,000 grant to study increasing between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg, currently only served by two trains a day in each direction.

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