The July 10 deadline for states, regions, and agencies to pre-apply for High-Speed and Inter-City Passenger Rail funds has passed, and I really can't express how gratifying it is to see that the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has received 278 pre-applications covering 40 states and the District of Columbia.
Folks, the response has been just tremendous. And it shows that not only does this country want high-speed rail, but also that this country is ready for high-speed rail. And it demonstrates a pent-up demand in America for the kind of fast, reliable, and sustainable transportation option people in Europe and Asia already experience every day.
I think the people of the states and regions that pre-applied understand that it’s time to look beyond our highways and invest in public transportation services--like passenger rail--that will enhance mobility and reduce our carbon footprint.
But, I also think the overwhelming response shows that the planners who pre-applied for these grants are way ahead of where everyone thought they'd be in terms of their ability to conceive of and plan these rail lines. And that's good news.
Now, it's true that the pre-applications seek $102 billion in funding, far more than the $8 billion the Recovery Act makes available. But that just means more intense competition among applicants to demonstrate their projects deserve federal support. And, in the weeks leading up to the August 24 final deadline, pre-applicants will be working closely with our experts in the FRA refining and improving their applications to ensure their competitiveness.
It also means careful deliberation on our part to select the applications that will deliver the greatest value. That's a responsibility we welcome.