High-speed rail has been one of the defining initiatives at the Department of Transportation since President Obama took office in 2009. His vision for safe, efficient, and convenient high-speed intercity train service is a vision shared by travelers all across the country. And from coast to coast, 2012 saw many exciting developments on the high-speed rail front.
In California, one of America's most ambitious high-speed rail plans got a boost from dedicated partners at the state and federal levels. Early in the year, the California High Speed Rail Authority released a revised business plan that lays out a faster, better, and more cost-effective path to building the rail system so critical to the state's economic future. A few months later, Governor Jerry Brown signed a funding bill that provides nearly $5 billion in state funds for investments in rail infrastructure, which will be matched by $3 billion in federal funding.
DOT's support for California high-speed rail didn't stop there. The FRA signed a Record of Decision clearing the final technical hurdle for construction on the Merced-Fresno segment, which the California High Speed Rail Authority now expects to break ground on in early 2013. Additionally, the FRA is responding to President Obama's call to streamline the federal evaluation and permitting process by pledging to finish the environmental review of the Fresno-Bakersfield segment six months early.
The Federal Railroad Administration also helped open the door further for improved passenger rail service in the Midwest. Just a few weeks ago, the FRA issued two Records of Decision about rail routes between Chicago and St. Louis, making the corridor eligible to compete for future federal funding.
And passengers traveling between Chicago and St. Louis and Chicago and Detroit are starting to experience the benefits of high-speed rail firsthand: trains can now reach speeds of 110 miles per hour along segments of both of these routes.
We're working hard to make that kind of speed available on other passenger rail routes around the country. Even faster top speeds are planned for the Northeast Corridor, where DOT joined state partners and officials from Amtrak as part of the Northeast Corridor Commission to create a unified vision for improved service along the country's most popular rail route. DOT has already provided a down payment of more than $3 billion to improve service reliability, boost speeds, and reduce travel times along the Northeast Corridor.
These are just a few examples of the progress we've made on improving rail in America this year. To date, 43 construction projects in 17 states and the District of Columbia worth $3.1 billion are under construction or set to begin construction within the next few months. And that's only a part of the $10.1 billion we've made available overall through the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program. Altogether, we're moving forward with 152 planning and construction projects over the next few years.
And there's no doubt that all of these exciting rail developments will help keep America on track for generations to come.