U.S. Senators Frank Lautenberg, Tom Carper, Robert Menendez, Richard Blumenthal and Chris Coons wrote to U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood earlier this week, applauding his recent decisions to designate the Northeast Corridor as a federally-recognised high-speed rail corridor and to provide states and Amtrak with the new opportunity to compete for Florida’s recently rejected $2.4 billion High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program funds.
The designation of the Northeast Corridor as a federally-recognised high-speed rail corridor will allow Amtrak to apply for grant funding from Florida’s rejected high-speed rail funds for projects on the Corridor. Previously, only the Northeast states could apply for projects on the NEC.
Permitting Amtrak to apply will allow projects that connect the entire Northeast Corridor to be considered for funding and will bring Amtrak’s extensive knowledge of the operations and maintenance of the Northeast Corridor into the grant process.
“This announcement is a victory for New Jersey and the Northeast Corridor,” Lautenberg said.
“The Northeast Corridor is critical to the economic success of New Jersey, and increased speeds and improved service will help our commuters, businesses, and families. Our region stands ready to put Florida’s discarded high-speed rail funding to good use. I look forward to working with Amtrak and Secretary LaHood to further advance high-speed rail in New Jersey and the entire Northeast Corridor.”
Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal funding for construction of a high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando.
Senators Carper, Lautenberg, Menendez, Blumenthal and Coons, along with other Senators from Northeast states, wrote a letter to Secretary LaHood on 28 February to request that Florida’s rejected funds be redirected to the Northeast Corridor. The Senators also met with Secretary LaHood on March 9 to further discuss the request.