Today, the DOT took another step toward realizing President Obama's historic vision for high-speed rail in America. Today, the DOT published guidelines for states and regions to apply for the federal funds that will move high-speed rail forward.
In May, I went to Europe and learned quite a bit from my counterparts in France, Spain, and Germany about the value their systems provide. Also in May, officials from the Federal Railroad Administration began meeting with more than 1,000 people across the country to gather input on rail.
Earlier this month, Vice President Biden and I met with governors and state transportation chiefs about the boost improved passenger rail service would provide their economies.
And now, the time has finally come for the United States to get serious about building a national network of high-speed rail corridors we can all be proud of.
A robust 21st Century economy requires efficient transportation of people from urban center to urban center. And, the guidance we publish today will evaluate proposals for their ability to:
- Make trips quicker and more convenient;
- Reduce congestion on highways and at airports; and
- Meet other environmental, energy and safety goals.
So, today the guidance; in mid-September we'll be back with the first round of grant awards. I am proud to say the DOT is meeting its ARRA commitments and meeting them responsibly.
This commitment to revitalizing the nation’s rails with high-speed corridors and improved existing service between cities includes $8 billion in competitive grants under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. In his budget, the President has further proposed a continuing $1 billion investment in this bold program.
High-speed rail can reduce traffic congestion on the roads and in the skies, and it links conveniently with light rail, subways and buses for competitive door-to-door travel times. It will encourage economic growth and create new domestic jobs even as it makes our communities more livable.
The guidelines require rigorous financial and environmental planning to make sure projects are worthy of investment and likely to be successful. Both planning and construction are eligible, so states can apply for funds no matter what stage of development their project is in.
At the June 3 meeting, I said "President Obama has handed us an extraordinary opportunity." Well, the DOT and the hardworking and meticulous folks at the FRA have seized that opportunity and today have advanced this nation closer to its high-speed rail future.