Today, the Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility released the following statement regarding this morning's announcement by the U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood that nearly half of the available $2 billion of high-speed intercity passenger rail funds will be reallocated to states in the Northeast Megaregion, including $795 million to states along the Northeast Corridor:
"The Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility applauds the Obama Administration and Secretary LaHood, for their bold vision of bringing high-speed rail to the Northeast," said Robert Yaro, Co-Chair of the Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility and President of Regional Plan Association. "The Northeast Corridor is the main event in the American passenger rail system and the investments announced today mark the first step in achieving world class high-speed rail for America's leading economic region."
Funding for the Northeast Corridor will be used to upgrade some of the most congested sections of the corridor, increasing speeds, improving reliability, and adding much-needed capacity. Amtrak will receive $450 million for critical improvements on the Corridor, and seven Northeastern States will receive substantial sums for upgrades on the Corridor and other branch lines. The Northeast Corridor had previously only received a small share of funding in prior rounds of the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program, so the new investment is much appreciated by business leaders and stakeholders in the Northeast.
Rob Wonderling, Co-Chair of the Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility, Chairman of the CEO Council for Growth and President and CEO of the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce said, "The additional funding for the Northeast Corridor is essential to ensuring a state of good repair, higher speeds, and better on time performance. As the primary market for high-speed rail service in the United States, the Northeast Corridor has the population density, concentrations of employment, connections to rail transit networks, and proven demand between cities to justify investments. This announcement is an important step to improve the corridor and enhance Greater Philadelphia's global competitiveness and economic vitality. "
Janet Raymond, Senior Vice President of the Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce and active member of the Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility said, "The Greater Providence Chamber of Commerce is pleased that Rhode Island has secured $28 million in federal funding for high speed rail projects in our state that will be used to remove a key bottleneck and make critical improvements to our state's rail infrastructure, which will increase speeds and the capacity of the Northeast Corridor. High-speed rail is an essential component in a modern transportation system and these investments will help make significant gains in the Northeast Corridor, as well as Rhode Island. Special thanks to our entire congressional delegation for their support in helping to secure this funding."
Chip Hallock, President and CEO of the Newark Regional Business Partnership and active member of the Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility said, "Newark's strength as a place to live and work is directly related to its accessibility, and improving the Northeast Corridor further enhances the economic development appeal of the state's largest City. This well-timed modernization of rail infrastructure and equipment, while long overdue, creates immediate economic impact and invests wisely in a long term vision to revive urban locations. It will make cities up and down the Corridor more efficiently reached as destinations to work and visit."
Also in attendance at the announcement this morning were New York Senator Charles Schumer, New Jersey Senator Frank Lautenberg, Congressman Jerrold Nadler, President & CEO of Amtrak, Joseph H. Boardman, and Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, Joseph C. Szabo, as well as a host of regional transportation partners, such as the Chairman & CEO of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, Executive Director of the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey, Commissioner of the New York State Department of Transportation, and others, who gathered at New York's Pennsylvania Station to support Secretary LaHood's decision. California and the Midwest, particularly Michigan and Illinois, are the other big winners in this latest round of high-speed intercity rail grants.