High-Speed Rail Funding: $40 Million Is Just A First Step In Funding Nearly Billion-Dollar Project
January 30, 2010
HARTFORD — - Several leading Connecticut politicians gathered at Union Station Friday to exchange congratulations and celebrate landing $40 million in federal money for high-speed rail.
They didn't mention that they still need about $1 billion more to complete the project.
"We are thrilled with the announcement of $40 million to help us build a commuter rail line between Springfield and New Haven," U.S. Rep. Christopher Murphy, D-5th District, told a room filled with TV news crews. "This is a landmark day."
Political animosity seemed to vanish during the uncommonly bipartisan news conference: Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell and Democratic House Speaker Chris Donovan traded praise for each other's work on the project, and Rell proclaimed that U.S. Sen. Christopher Dodd, D-Conn., deserved boundless credit.
"He has been a godsend," Rell told the audience before turning to Dodd to say, "You really have led the charge."
State leaders and the congressional delegation have worked since last spring to win a share of $8 billion in high-speed rail money, part of the federal economic stimulus plan, that President Barack Obama awarded Thursday.
Connecticut received just $40 million, enough to install a second set of tracks on a 10-mile stretch south of Hartford where Amtrak is frequently delayed by slow-moving freight trains on the single track.
The state estimates that upgrading the entire line to accommodate 110 mph trains could cost $800 million to $1 billion.
Dodd acknowledged that Connecticut will need much more federal assistance over the next couple of years, but called the $40 million a vital down payment.
"I'll be the first to admit that a lot more work needs to be done," Dodd said. "But this puts people to work — I'm told there are as many as 400 jobs associated with this."
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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