The Northeast will receive almost $800 million in federal funding to updgrade rail service along the heavily traveled corridor, according to an announcement made Monday by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood.
The money is a portion of more than $2 billion in awards being distributed across the country.
More than half the money for the Northeast, $450 million, will go to Amtrak to upgrade rail service between New York and Washington. The project will upgrade power systems and other equipment along a busy segment of track between Morrisville, Pa., and New Brunswick, N.J.
The changes will allow Acela trains to increase their speeds from 135 mph to 160 mph along a 24-mile section of track, officials said. Amtrak will also reconfigure some switches outside New York’s Penn Station to reduce congestion. The work is scheduled to be completed by September 2017, according to Amtrak.
Railroad officials said the work will help prepare for the next generation of high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor: trains capable of traveling at 220 mph.
The awards are part of $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funds rejected earlier this year by Florida Gov. Rick Scott, a Republican elected in November. Scott said he feared a high-speed rail line proposed to link Tampa and Orlando would encounter cost overruns and be too costly for the state.
Two other recently elected GOP governors — John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin — also rejected high-speed rail funding awarded by the Obama administration, saying the states did not need the projects.
Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley and several members of Congress had written to LaHood seeking the funds for rail upgrades along the congested Northeast Corridor.
LaHood said DOT received more than 100 applications from 24 states, the District of Columbia and Amtrak.
“The investments we’re making today will help states across the country create jobs, spur economic development and boost manufacturing in their communities,” LaHood said in a statement.
Maryland will receive $22 million for work related to replacing the 100-year-old Susquehanna River Bridge, which carries commuter and passenger rail traffic. Officials said it is a source of frequent delays due to the required maintenance.
Other awards include:
• $4 million for an environmental study on a segment between Raleigh, N.C., and Richmond, part of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor.
• $295 million to New York for new train routes to help ease rail traffic around Manhattan;
• $300 million for a California rail extension.
• Almost $400 million to increase intercity train speeds to 110 mph along more than 400 miles of track in Michigan and Illinois.