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New York Gets $354.4 Million For High-Speed Rail Projects

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Amtrak's Acela Express (credit: Michael Smith/Newsmakers)

Amtrak’s Acela Express (credit: Michael Smith/Newsmakers)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is at Penn Station Monday to formally announce that $2 billion set aside for rail projects that Florida turned down will now be spread among 15 states.

WCBS 880’s Paul Murnane With MTA Chairman Jay Walder

Nearly $800 million will be used to upgrade train speeds from 135 mph to 160 mph on the Northeast Corridor.

The money was originally awarded to Florida for high-speed trains between Tampa and Orlando. After Gov. Rick Scott rejected the offer the Department of Transportation invited other states to compete for the funds.

Both Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wrote to Secretary LaHood requesting the funds be redirected to the New York area.

New York has been granted $354.4 million for infrastructure and signal improvements along Amtrak’s heaviest traveled section of the Northeast Corridor, capacity improvements along the Empire Corridor and to reduce congestion related to the Long Island Rail Road’s Harold Interlocking.

The details of the projects are as follows:

Northeast Corridor Congestion Relief: Harold Interlocking: $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. This is for the largest application by New York, and funds the entire amount requested for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s (MTA) Harold Interlocking plan.

The Amtrak bypass routes that will be constructed as part of this project will greatly improve reliability, on-time performance, and travel time for existing Amtrak service between New York and Boston and will provide the direct path through Harold Interlocking that is needed to make high-speed rail possible on the Northeast Corridor in the future.

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.

Empire Corridor West: Rochester Intermodal Station: $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.

“Clearly, there is a demand to increase rail transit in New York and across the Northeast,” Sen Gillibrand said. “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.”

“These initiatives have tremendous potential and will be a significant factor in ushering our economy and transportation system into the 21st century,” Gov. Cuomo said.

Connecticut has been awarded $30 million in federal transportation funding for a planned high-speed rail project between New Haven and Springfield, Mass.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau: CT Is Getting FL’s Money

Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced the award Monday. He says the money is part of $2 billion in federal funds that became available after it was turned down by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

The rail project, which has been under discussion for decades, would support up to 50 trains a day, including one every 30 minutes during rush hour. Trains would reach speeds of up to 110 mph, and supporters predict the rail line will have 1.26 million riders a year by 2030.

The state hopes to complete the design work on the project in 2013 and launch the service in 2016.

Do you think these projects will fix the problems commuters deal with? Sound off below

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