High-speed projects receive funds

Posted on November 22, 2011

The California High-Speed Rail Authority and the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT) received $928.6 million and $150 million, respectively, in federal funding for high-speed rail projects in their areas.

California's grant will go toward the initial construction set to begin next year in Fresno. When combined with voter-approved state support and previously-awarded federal dollars, the funds will go toward the construction of the first usable segment of the California system in the Central Valley.

In the recently released business plan, the authority embraced a phased implementation similar to those used for international systems. The first construction project will put more than 100,000 people to work during the next five years. Over the course of the network's construction, more than one million jobs are expected to be created, and the economic activity spurred by the new system is expected to add up to 450,000 new non-high-speed rail jobs to the California economy by 2040.

The funds awarded to Michigan will go toward increasing the safety and reliability of Amtrak's Wolverine and Blue Water services between Detroit and Chicago and put more than 800 Americans back to work this spring.

The grant will enable MDOT to acquire ownership over much of the Chicago-Detroit/Pontiac High Speed Rail Corridor within the State of Michigan and pave the way for them to begin a track and signal improvement project between Detroit and Kalamazoo, Mich., in the spring of 2012.

The improvements will allow for speeds up to 110 mph on 77% of Amtrak's Wolverine and Blue Water services between Detroit and Chicago, resulting in a 30 minute reduction in travel times between those destinations.

Previously announced FRA investments in the line include new continuously welded rail and ties, fiber optic lines and infrastructure to support a positive train control system, rebuilding 180 highway-rail grade crossings and gates and flashers at 65 private highway-rail grade crossings.

The corridor will also benefit from next-generation American-made trains, funded as part of a previously announced $782 million grant that will pump new life into domestic manufacturing. States will purchase 33 quick-acceleration locomotives and 120 bi-level passenger cars to operate in Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Iowa, Missouri, California, Washington and Oregon.

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