Who got high speed rail money

February 17th, 2011 by Mariah

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) — The federal government already has more than $10 billion in stimulus and other money set aside for high speed rail projects. To date, it has made commitments to spend $4.5 billion of that.

President Obama has made infrastructure a centerpiece of his presidency, calling for $53 billion in additional funds for high speed rail in his budget proposal this week.

 

 

Republicans seem unlikely to fund that request, and a political fight is brewing. But if the money is rejected, the $4.5 billion the government has spent so far won’t likely be wasted.

 

Here are some of the major projects to date:

California: The state has captured the lion’s share of these funds, winning $3 billion to construct a 220-mph train from San Diego to San Francisco.

The money is to be combined with $9 billion California voters have already approved, plus private funds and additional government cash, to build what is ultimately expected to be a $40-$50 billion dollar project.

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Work on the actual line has yet to begin and most of this money has not been spent — the state is still designing the train, working out the route and getting the necessary permits. The first section of track is expected to run from Bakersfield to Fresno.

If all goes well — and that’s a big if, because plenty of people oppose the project — construction will start in 2012 and end in 2020.

California seems intent on building this train with or without help from the federal government, although federal money is a big part of their plan.

Chicago-St. Louis: This route, which passes through Springfield and Bloomington, Ill., received $1.1 billion to make the existing Amtrak service faster.

To do this, improvements are being made that include laying new track, updating signals, building new stations, and buying new railcars and locomotives.

The improvements are expected to boost average speeds from 53 to 63 miles per hour, shaving nearly an hour off what is now a 5-hour and 20-minute trip, according to Ken Orski, publisher of the infrastructure industry publication Innovation NewsBriefs and a former transportation official in the Nixon and Ford administrations.

Those improvements will benefit both the passenger and freight trains that use the line, regardless of whether more high speed rail money is approved by Congress.

Orlando-Tampa: This controversial, 84-mile proposal has received $66 million for preliminary engineering projects on a high-speed train running from the Orlando airport to downtown Tampa. This money does appear to have been wasted.

On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Rick Scott declined the other $2.4 billion being offered by the feds.