The $2.4 billion in federal high-speed rail money that Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected last month will soon be awarded to several of the 98 applications that were submitted in response to the Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) before the April 4 deadline. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) will now begin reviewing the funding requests they received from 24 states, the District of Columbia, and Amtrak with requests totaling nearly $10 billion, over four times the amount available.
The NOFA states that there are no predetermined minimum or maximum dollar thresholds for awards and that the FRA anticipates making multiple awards from the funding available. While an official list of applications has not been made available yet, California apparently disregarded the FRA's stated intentions and applied for the entire amount available and has offered a 20% state match in order to fund the completion of the Merced to Bakersfield segment of the statewide system, including construction of both stations. Amtrak also applied for $1.3 billion for four projects in the Northeast megaregion.
Applications will be judged based on the project's ability to reduce energy consumption, improve the efficiency of a region's overall transportation network, and generate sustained economic activity along the corridor are among the selection criteria.
U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood released the following statement:
Read Secretary LaHood entire statement here."Today, we are another step closer to delivering an innovative, national transportation network that brings new jobs and economic opportunity to the American people. Since I announced the availability of an additional $2.4 billion for high-speed rail projects, governors and members of Congress have been clamoring for the opportunity to participate. That's because they know that high-speed rail will deliver tens of thousands of jobs, spur economic development across their communities and create additional options for their citizens as the country's population grows."