Raleigh-Charlotte passenger rail gets first $20.3 million in federal-stimulus funds
An update from the NC DOT's Rail Division:
The N.C. Department of Transportation’s Rail Division today officially received its first chunk of the $545 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding it was granted earlier this year. The $20.3 million payment from the Federal Railroad Administration will support the state’s high-speed passenger rail program.
“This award is an exciting first step in the state’s partnership with the federal government to make high-speed rail a reality in North Carolina and the Southeast,” said Gov. Bev Perdue. “For our citizens, it means jobs, economic development, reduced congestion and a cleaner environment.”
“North Carolina has been very forward-looking in bringing its residents improved rail service, and the Federal Railroad Administration is pleased to obligate these funds to advance its highly ambitious high-speed and intercity passenger rail plans,” said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo.
NCDOT will use the money to refurbish passenger coaches and locomotives, so it can expand service across North Carolina. The department recently added mid-day service on the Piedmont route between Raleigh and Charlotte, which includes stops in Cary, Durham, Burlington, Greensboro, High Point, Salisbury and Kannapolis.
Plans are currently under way to launch a fourth daily service between the state’s capital and the Queen City. Depending on funding, it could be operational by 2012.
“North Carolina is part of an elite group as one of only seven states receiving high-speed rail corridor development funding,” Rep. David Price (D-NC) said. “As a part of more than $500 million in Recovery Act investments being made to modernize North Carolina's rail system and increase rail speeds, this funding will further what must be our highest priority: putting North Carolinians to work.”
The $20.3 million will create 34 new jobs for Amtrak train engineers and conductors, as well as the mechanical personnel employed by private contractor Herzog Transit Services who operate and maintain the trains.
In January, NCDOT received $545 million in ARRA funds – the sixth highest award to any state under President Obama’s high-speed rail plan. The funding will support further development of the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor and the state’s intercity passenger rail program.
It will create or maintain as many as 4,800 private sector jobs in the state over the next four years, with 1,000 of those expected this year alone as ready-to-go projects get under way. The jobs will come from more than 30 projects in 11 North Carolina counties. The projects include:
● Purchasing and rebuilding locomotives and passenger cars;
● Improving stations;
● Building passing sidings and double tracks between Greensboro and Charlotte;
● Closing highway-railroad crossings;
● Upgrading private crossings; and
● Constructing new highway bridges.
Today, the Virginia-North Carolina High-Speed Rail Compact will hold its inaugural meeting in Raleigh to begin coordination of the two states' efforts for the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor, focusing on initial stages from Raleigh to Richmond and ultimately from Charlotte to Washington, D.C.