New York will be getting major regional mass transit improvements as a result of Florida rejecting more than $2 billion in federal funds for high speed rail, according to federal officials.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today revealed nearly $800 million has been allocated to improve Northeast Corridor rail service and another nearly $60 million for New York rail improvements.
“If the administration wants to award hundreds of millions of dollars to upgrade our transportation infrastructure and create faster, more efficient passenger rail service, there is no need to ask New York twice,” said U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-NY. “This historic investment will clear up the spaghetti of confusing lines and signals that slow down travel on the Boston-New York-Philly-DC corridor and make significant upgrades to our upstate rail corridors and out-dated stations, like in Rochester and Schenectady, to establish high speed rail. It will also make the Long Island commute faster and more efficient. We need this critical funding and if other states don’t want it, we’ll gladly take it.”
When Florida Gov. Rick Scott refused $2.4 billion in high speed rail funds, Schumer and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-NY, lobbied LaHood to bring that funding to New York.
"There is no doubt, we must expand high speed rail to connect more travelers, workers and businesses, create new construction jobs immediately and provide an economic engine to fuel our growth for the long term,” Gillibrand said. “Today, we have taken a major step closer to the goal of a robust high speed rail system for our State and Region that will help grow the nation's economy. I will keep fighting for investments to expand high speed rail to every corner of New York.”
The funding includes $450 million for infrastructure and signal improvements along Amtrak's heaviest traveled section of the Northeast Corridor from New York to Washington, DC, $58 million for capacity improvements along the Empire Corridor, including construction of a fourth track at the Albany-Rensselaer Station and a new Schenectady Station, $295 million to reduce congestion related to the Harold Interlocking in New York City, and $1.4 million for planning and engineering for the new Rochester Intermodal Station.
“I am thrilled that Secretary LaHood has awarded these investments to the New York Region where ridership continues to grow, and I am thankful for his leadership,” Gillibrand said. “Clearly, there is a demand to increase rail transit in New York and across the Northeast. These investments will make a major impact in meeting that demand by relieving congestion and increasing the reliability of service.”
LaHood said 24 states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak submitted nearly 100 applications for the funding.
“President Obama and Vice President Biden’s vision for a national rail system will help ensure America is equipped to win the future with the fastest, safest and most efficient transportation network in the world,” said LaHood. “The investments we’re making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities.”
The Federal Railroad Administration selected 15 states and Amtrak to receive $2.02 billion for 22 high-speed intercity passenger rail projects as part of a nationwide network that will connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail in 25 years. LaHood said the dedicated effort to improve the Northeast Corridor will increase speeds from 135 mph to 160 mph on critical segments, improve on-time performance and add more seats for passengers.
Rail project highlights include:
Amtrak – NEC Power, Signal, Track, Catenary Improvements – $450 million to boost capacity, reliability, and speed in one of the most heavily-traveled sections of the Northeast Corridor, creating a 24-mile segment of track capable of supporting train speeds up to 160-mph.
Maryland – NEC Bridge Replacement – $22 million for engineering and environmental work to replace the century-old Susquehanna River Bridge, which currently causes frequent delays for commuters due to the high volume of critical maintenance.
New York – NEC Harold Interlocking Amtrak Bypass Routes – $295 million to alleviate major delays for trains coming in and out of Manhattan with new routes that allow Amtrak trains to bypass the busiest passenger rail junction in the nation.
Rhode Island – NEC Kingston Track, Platform Improvements – $25 million for design and construction of an additional 1.5 miles of third track in Kingston, RI, so high-speed trains operating at speeds up to 150-mph can pass trains on a high-volume section of the Northeast Corridor.
Rhode Island – NEC Providence Station Improvements – $3 million for preliminary engineering and environmental work to renovate the Providence Station. These upgrades will enhance the passenger experience, keep the station in good working order and improve transit and pedestrian connectivity.
Connecticut – New Haven to Springfield Track Construction – $30 million to complete double-track segments on the corridor, bringing added intercity rail service to a route that plays an important role in the region, connecting communities in Connecticut and Massachusetts to the NEC, as well as Vermont.
Massachusetts/Maine – Downeaster Track Improvements – $20.8 million to construct a 10.4-mile section of double track between Wilmington and Andover, MA. Track upgrades will increase schedule performance and dependability for passengers traveling on the Northern New England Downeaster corridor.
New York – Empire Corridor Capacity Improvements – $58 million to construct upgrades to tracks, stations and signals, improving rail operations along the Empire Corridor. This includes replacement of the Schenectady Station and construction of a fourth station track at the Albany - Rensselaer Station, one of the corridor’s most significant bottlenecks.
New York – Rochester Station and Track Improvements – $1.4 million for a preliminary engineering and environmental analysis for a new Rochester Intermodal Station on the Empire Corridor, connecting passengers with additional transit and pedestrian options.