Home Asides Northeast Corridor gains $745M in Florida’s rejected HSR dollars

Northeast Corridor gains $745M in Florida’s rejected HSR dollars

by Benjamin Kabak

When Florida decided to eschew $2 billion in federal funds for high-speed rail, many in the northeast wanted to claim that money. After all, to some, it made more sense to focus the money in one profitable location instead of spreading small grants all over. The federal government seems to be on board with that idea as well as earlier this week, the US DOT awarded $745 million to the northeast for its high-speed rail plans.

Of those dollars, nearly $450 million will go toward electrical systems and track upgrades between Trenton and New York City which will allow for operating speeds of 160 mph and top speeds of 186. The remaining $294 million will go toward the Harold Interlocking project which according to DOT will “alleviate major delays for trains coming in and out of Manhattan with new routes that allow Amtrak trains to bypass the busiest passenger rail junction in the nation.”

Work on both projects will start next year. “These grants are a win for our economy and a win for commuters all along the Northeast Corridor,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said. “We are creating new construction jobs, ordering American-made supplies and improving transportation opportunities across a region where 50 million Americans live and work.” Now about the rest of the $125 billion it’s going to take to bring true high-speed rail to Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor…

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Chet August 24, 2011 - 11:42 am

Uh, typo…

“Of those dollars, nearly $450 will go toward electrical systems and track upgrades between Trenton and New York City which will allow for operating speeds of 160 mph and top speeds of 186 million.”

Now, it would be awesome if we could have trains going 186 million whatever….lol.

Lawrence Velázquez August 24, 2011 - 12:13 pm

And for only $450!

Jerrold August 24, 2011 - 7:36 pm

Wouldn’t Einstein have said that it’s impossible for anything to go faster than 186 THOUSAND?

DavidDuck August 24, 2011 - 10:08 pm

Well the speed of light is 186,000 miles PER SECOND. So you can go 186,000,000 miles per hour. It takes a lot of energy though, as that is 1/3 of the speed of light. More to the point, it might be impractical for the matter at hand.

Mike Nitabach August 24, 2011 - 11:57 am

As of now, the Acela trip between NYP and PHL is about 1:05. Any idea how long it will be when this improvement is complete?

Name August 24, 2011 - 1:11 pm


But the important thing is the new electrical equipment, the saved minute and change is just a side benefit.

Bolwerk August 24, 2011 - 12:34 pm

Tea Party financial decision making is so irrational that the northeast got a little bit of its own money back. Delightfully ironic.

SEAN August 24, 2011 - 12:43 pm

Off topic; but not only did Rick Scott reject HSR funds to our benefit, he also rejected $2,000,000,000 in healthcare funds. Yay! more money for us.

BBnet3000 August 24, 2011 - 12:54 pm

Bolwerk, im no Tea Partier but from an Urbanist perspective im basically cheering a weaker federal government. The states within the NEC and California can only benefit.

Bolwerk August 24, 2011 - 1:34 pm

I may be inclined agree, if this “weaker” federal government actually delegates our own resources and decisionmaking abilities back to us. Usually “small government” is a code for a streamlined authoritarian political uniformity that actually ultimately just takes more than it gives back.

Adirondacker12800 August 24, 2011 - 3:14 pm

Small government is usually code for “suck money out of the urban areas because they aren’t Real America and ship it off to the quasi rural area in Real America”

DavidDuck August 24, 2011 - 10:09 pm


petey August 25, 2011 - 12:03 am


AlexB August 24, 2011 - 2:21 pm

Any word on when these projects will be completed?

The northeast (NY & NJ) applied for this money a while ago, and knew what they were applying for. I don’t understand why we then have to wait another 6+ months just to start work. Does that not seem weird? Why not 2-3 months max? What are they doing in the meantime and why can’t it be sped up? Following transit improvements is so tedious and frustrating sometimes. Even relatively small jobs seem to take forever to get off the ground.

Alon Levy August 24, 2011 - 5:52 pm

The Harold project is a very good example of concrete-before-organization thinking. Amtrak just has to use the southern tunnels and the LIRR the northern tunnels, because, well, the LIRR has to use the lower concourse.


It could be worse. The feds could be funding Amtrak’s proposed greenfield tunnel under central Philadelphia.

Donald August 24, 2011 - 8:51 pm

I sure would like to know the REAL reason why Republican governors turned down the high speed rail money. Oil company kick backs? Their desire not to see an increase in union construction jobs?

Alon Levy August 25, 2011 - 3:49 am

Lobbying by people who get kickbacks, more like. One of the members of Rick Scott’s transition team was Robert Poole, who runs the Koch-funded Reason Foundation’s transportation wing. Together with fellow Reason hack Wendell Cox, Poole wrote a fraudulent report saying that Florida would be on the hook for large HSR cost overruns and ridership shortfalls.

AK August 25, 2011 - 10:15 am

We could certainly use improvements in HSR in the NE Corridor, but I do wonder if some of this money is better spent on a station at 41st St. and 10th Avenue…

Charley S December 6, 2011 - 9:20 pm

I’m a bit unclear about one aspect of this project: Is this section of track being upgraded to 186mph eventually going to be part of the 220 mph alignment via future upgrades? If not, I don’t see the point in investing $450 million to upgrade an alignment that eventually will be replaced with an entirely new dedicated two-track ROW.

If Amtrak is actually going to pursue this plan of creating a new alignment, it makes sense to start investing in this vision now with these funds rather than make improvements to a track segment that will just be replaced in the future. The Gateway & Harold Interlocking project make sense to me because they are key pieces in realizing this ambitious plan, I just hope that this track upgrade is as well…


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