WASHINGTON, May 1- (PNA/Xinhua) – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on Monday announced two billion U.S. dollars in high-speed rail awards to speed up trains in the Northeast Corridor, expand service in the Midwest and provide new, state-of-the-art locomotives and rail cars as part of the Obama administration’s plan to transform travel in America.
Twenty-four states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak submitted nearly 100 applications, competing to be part of a historic investment that is expected to create tens of thousands of jobs, improve mobility and stimulate American manufacturing. The Department’s Federal Railroad Administration selected 15 states and Amtrak to receive 2.02 billion dollars 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.
“President (Barack) Obama and Vice President (Joe) 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 in a statement. “The investments we’re making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities.”
According to the statement, nearly 100 percent of the 2.02 billion dollars announced on Monday will go directly to construction of rail projects, bringing expanded and improved high- speed intercity passenger rail service to cities in all parts of the country. Thirty-two states across the United States and the District of Columbia are currently laying the foundation for high- speed rail corridors to link Americans with faster and more energy- efficient travel options.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and annual appropriations have, to date, provided 10.1 billion dollars to put America on track toward providing rail access to new communities and improving the reliability, speed and frequency of existing lines. Of that, approximately 5.8 billion dollars has already been obligated for rail projects.
A strict “Buy America” requirement for high-speed rail projects ensures that U.S. manufacturers and workers will receive the maximum economic benefits from this federal investment. In 2009, LaHood secured a commitment from 30 foreign and domestic rail manufacturers to employ American workers and locate or expand their base of operations in the United States if they are selected for high-speed rail contracts. (PNA/Xinhua)