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State To Get $40 Million In Federal Funds For High-Speed Rail

DON STACOM

January 27, 2010

HARTFORD - Federal officials will announce today that Connecticut will get $40 million in federal funding for high-speed rail.

"This is a major investment in Connecticut's future," said Sen. Christopher Dodd, one of the chief proponents of upgrading the Amtrak line through the state. "After years of delay, the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail line is finally getting the funding it needs to move forward."

The money will help pay to build a second set of tracks so trains can pass each other along the 62-mile route.

President Barack Obama is scheduled to visit Florida today to announce stimulus grants for high-speed rail projects in 31 states. Connecticut's $40 million slice of the pie, however, is more like a sliver: The other states are expected to divide up the $8 billion pool for high-speed trains.

Florida, for instance, is expected to get between $1.4 billion and $2.5 billion for a high-speed rail line connecting Orlando and Tampa, the Orlando Sentinel reported Wednesday evening.

The full cost of an electrified, double-track line from New Haven to Springfield is estimated at more than $800 million.

The plan is for Amtrak inter-city trains to run at up to 110 mph, sharing the route with commuter trains running at slower speeds.

The $40 million is "a good start," said House Speaker Chris Donovan, who pushed in December to get the state to commit $26 million for the project.

"That $26 million has already started showing a return," he said.

"It's an encouraging first step. We hope we can continue our momentum by qualifying for additional monies as soon as possible," said state Sen. Donald DeFronzo, co-chairman of the transportation committee.

Dodd has said the project will be a key to Connecticut's economic recovery.

"We're on a track towards better, faster, more reliable rail service connecting our state with New York, Massachusetts and the rest of the region," Dodd said.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
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