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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood Statement on High-Speed Rail Agreement in North Carolina

“President Obama’s historic vision for a national high-speed rail system will link 80 percent of Americans in the next 25 years and lay the foundation for an economy that moves people, goods and information more quickly, safely and reliably than anywhere else in the world. Today, we have made significant progress towards that goal with the signing of a cooperative agreement between USDOT and North Carolina DOT that makes $461 million available for the State of North Carolina to begin work on projects that will reduce travel times and increase reliability for rail passengers, create jobs, and spur economic growth.”

“These projects can get under way thanks to the agreement signed today between the State of North Carolina, Norfolk Southern Railway, North Carolina Railroad, and Amtrak.    With this agreement in place, North Carolinians will soon be working on 24 rail projects in 11 counties, including the construction of double tracks between Charlotte and Greensboro and 12 new bridges that will eliminate 30 highway-rail crossings. This is the sixth agreement between the states and a host freight railroad for a major high-speed rail corridor funded under the Recovery Act, and it ensures that these grants will improve passenger rail service in North Carolina, while preserving the world class freight rail system we have today.”

Additional background on the agreement:

Partnerships between states and railroads are central to the Obama Administration’s vision for a national high-speed rail program, which will allow America to win the future by creating construction and manufacturing jobs here in the U.S., while promoting future economic growth and global competitiveness.  The state-owned North Carolina Railroad currently leases track to Norfolk Southern Railway and Amtrak operates the passenger rail services on the state’s behalf.  NC DOT will work with Norfolk Southern to design and construct the rail line improvements and improve travel times, while covering the cost of maintenance incurred during construction.
The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration is making $545 million in Recovery Act-funded investments in North Carolina, under the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program, including $59 million to purchase and refurbish equipment that provides for a third daily round trip between Charlotte and Raleigh and station upgrades in Cary, Burlington, and High Point.  Previously released funding will also pay for upgrades to tracks, bridges and safety improvements at highway-rail grade crossings, station enhancements, and construction of a $23 million maintenance facility in Charlotte.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011