The U.S. Department of Transportation announced Wednesday, April 6, that more than 90 applications from 24 states, Washington, D.C., and Amtrak are pursuing $2.4 billion in available funding from the department’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) program. The application requests totaled just under $10 billion.
The $2.4 billion was made available after Fla. Gov. Rick Scott rejected the funding for a proposed high-speed rail line between Tampa, Fla., and Orlando, Fla., that was included in President Obama’s budget. Scott turned down the funding, believing that the project could have as much as $3 billion in cost overruns, ridership and revenue estimates were optimistic.
The submissions will be evaluated by the Federal Railroad Administration. Winners will be selected using a merit-driven process to award the funds to high-speed rail projects that can quickly deliver public and economic benefits.
Applications will be judged on the project’s ability to reduce energy consumption, improve efficiency of a region’s transportation network and a number of other criteria. No date was given for a decision on project selection.
“We are extremely pleased to see the bipartisan enthusiasm behind all of the requests to get into the high-speed rail business,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
California is one of the states pursuing the money. The state’s rail authority applied for the entire $2.4 billion. State officials said the extra money would allow the state’s planned rail line to extend into downtown Merced and downtown Bakersfield.