"The Federal Railroad Administration, part of the Department of Transportation, will start awarding $8 billion in grants under the economic-stimulus program later this year to states with viable plans for building high-speed rail lines or upgrading existing passenger rail service. The Obama administration, in budget details released Thursday, said it wants to spend another $1 billion annually on high-speed rail over the next five years. Congress must approve the use of that $5 billion as part of its review of the fiscal 2010 budget.
Mr. LaHood said President Barack Obama "believes very deeply" that the U.S. should embark on a decades-long effort to establish a national network of high-speed passenger rail service, akin to the interstate-highway system launched by President Dwight D. Eisenhower more than five decades ago. The U.S. has to date spent more than $1 trillion to build and maintain the interstate highway system.
States and rail advocates are already jockeying to try and secure some of the federal transportation funding. Florida officials said they hoped to secure $1.5 billion to build rail service connecting Tampa and Orlando. California hopes to win significant funding for a planned, high-speed rail system with bullet trains traveling more than 200 miles an hour. The project, which would cost at least $30 billion, would initially link Los Angeles to San Francisco and later expand to San Diego and Sacramento. The state also hopes to secure grants to upgrade its existing network of intercity and commuter lines."