Virginia will get more than $44 million in federal grant money to develop a high-speed rail link between Richmond and Washington.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced the funding Tuesday. The goal is ultimately to spur high-speed rail development throughout the Southeast and link with high-speed rail envisioned for the Northeast Corridor.

“Thanks to the investments we are making today, Americans across the Southeast will have convenient access to faster, more efficient passenger rail connecting to destinations all along the Northeast Corridor,” LaHood said in a statement.   “Passenger rail will also help alleviate traffic along congested sections of I-95, foster economic development and provide Americans with a greener, cleaner, more sustainable way to travel.”

The $44.3 million to Virginia is designated for environmental analysis and preliminary engineering. DOT said the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation would contribute $11.1 million toward the project.

LaHood also announced that about $4 million will go to North Carolina for analysis and preliminary engineering on a new connection between Raleigh and Richmond.

In August DOT said that Amtrak would receive nearly $745 million to upgrade its Northeast Corridor rail lines to help lay the foundation for faster rail service in the region.

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