President Obama kick starts US high-speed rail
President Obama kick starts US high-speed rail Feb 2010
Paula Wallis, TunnelTalk
President Ohama was last week (January 28) in Miami, Florida announcing a major initial investment from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funding to initiate development of high-speed rail networks in different high-urban corridors of the United States. With much of the $8 billion allocation going into feasibility study, preliminary design and land acquisition, the prospect of high-speed rail holds great potential for the tunneling and ground engineering industries. High-speed demands relatively straight and flat alignments requiring tunnels and subsurface cuts for passing through and under natural topographical barriers such as under rivers and through hills and mountains as well as for creating level crossing grade separations and urban underpasses for approaches to city center terminals. California was the major winner, receiving $2.25 billion, nearly twice as much as any other state. However it was still only half the State's requested $4.5 billion. Florida and Illinois were also big winners receiving more than $1.2 billion and $1.1 billion respectively.
In the Northeast corridor the ARRA grants will fund engineering and environmental work for a new rail tunnel in Baltimore and in California more than 60 miles of tunneling work has been identified on its initial high-speed rail line linking Los Angeles to San Francisco.
“Through the Recovery Act, we are making the largest investment in infrastructure since the Interstate Highway System was created, putting Americans to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, and waterways for the future,” said President Obama. “That investment is how we can break ground across the country, putting people to work building high-speed rail lines, because there’s no reason why Europe or China should have the fastest trains when we can build them right here in America.”
President Obama called the $8 billion a down payment and committed to another $5 billion to high-speed rail over the next five years. The following is a rundown of where and how the $8 billion in grants will be spent based on a news release from the U.S. Department of Transportation.


Of nine corridors and projects singled out for support of the federal funding, California is among the most ambitious in the nation with the state having made the greatest commitment to the development of a high speed rail system to connect Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego. The state’s investments in passenger rail over recent years have led to significant ridership growth with more than 5.5 million people/year now riding on California’s three intercity corridors, making these routes the busiest in the U.S. after the Northeast Corridor.
Fig 1

Summary of Corridor Investments
California High-Speed Rail: An ARRA grant of $2.25 billion will go to purchasing right-of-ways, constructing track, signaling systems, and stations, and completing environmental reviews and engineering documents.
Capitol Corridor (Sacramento - San Jose): Some $23 million in funding has been allocated to the completion of a track relocation project in Sacramento, a new crossover near Davis, and upgrades to San Jose’s Diridon Station, in San Jose, all of which will contribute to fewer delays and faster travel times.
San Joaquin Corridor (Sacramento/Oakland - Bakersfield): A $20 million grand will fund upgrades to the San Joaquin’s train sets, including the addition of more storage space for bicycles and an overhaul of the trains’ emissions control equipment, which will reduce pollution.
Pacific Surfliner Corridor (San Luis Obispo - Los Angeles - San Diego): An investment of $51 million will fund construction of new track and crossovers to improve on-time performance and ultimately allow for top speeds of 110 mph on the segment connecting Los Angeles and San Diego.


Grants totalling $1.25 billion from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) will go toward the creation of a new high-speed rail corridor that connects Tampa Bay, Orlando, Miami and other communities in central and south Florida. The first phase of the service will connect Orlando to Tampa, with intermediate service to several of central Florida’s major tourist destinations. The second phase will connect Orlando to Miami, following either an inland or coastal route.
Fig 1

Summary of Corridor Investments
Tampa - Orlando: The $1.25 billion investment will initiate the development of the Tampa to Orlando segment, with speeds reaching 168mph and 16 round trips per day on brand new track dedicated solely to high-speed rail. The segment includes the construction of 84 miles of track, new stations, and equipment. Completion of this phase is anticipated in 2014.
Orlando - Miami: Although no ARRA funding will be used for this segment, significant planning activities are on-going to prepare for this second phase of Florida’s high-speed rail vision.

Chicago - St Louis - Kansas City

The U.S. Department of Transportation allocated $1.133 billion to upgrade 570 miles of exiting track to high speed rail that connects Chicago, Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri and Kansas City, Kansas.
Fig 1

Summary of Corridor Investments
Chicago - St. Louis: Using $1.102 billion in grants will fund improvemnts to this corridor that will allow passenger rail service from Chicago to St. Louis to operate at speeds of up to 110 mph. Improvements will be made to track, signal systems, and existing stations. The project will also fund the implementation of positive train control technology. Upgrades to rail cars will also play a significant role in enhancing this service. Additionally, required environmental work to support future service enhancements will be funded.
St. Louis - Kansas City: An allocation of $31 million will go to upgrading the St. Louis to Kansas City service. Numerous construction projects, including the expansion of existing railroad bridges and universal crossovers, as well as improved grade crossings, will be funded on this segment.

Minneapolis/St.Paul - Madison - Milwaukee - Chicago

The corridor stretching from the Minneapolis/St.Paul to Madison, Milwaukee, and Chicago is an essential segment of the Midwest rail system. However, there is currently no passenger rail service between Milwaukee and Madison, the two largest metropolitan areas in Wisconsin. A funding grant of $823 million will include the bulding of 32 miles of new track.
Fig 1

Summary of Corridor Investments
Chicago - Milwaukee: An ARRA investment of $12 million has been awarded to station construction, infrastructure enhancements, and signal and track improvements on this corridor to increase on time performance and reliability and create the building blocks for future 110 mph service.
Milwaukee - Madison: A $810 million grant will go to the implementation of a new service by upgrading infrastructure along 80 miles of track connecting Wisconsin’s two largest cities. This project also includes new and refurbished stations, as well as positive train control.
Madison - Minneapolis/St. Paul: This project received a $1 million grant to start the planning and environmental work to begin to lay the groundwork for connecting the rail line through Wisconsin to Minnesota at speeds of up to 110 mph. Several route alignments will be considered in the planning process.

Charlotte - Raleigh - Richmond - Washington, D.C.

The Southeast Corridor connects Charlotte, Raleigh, Richmond, and Washington, D.C.. North Carolina and Virginia have a strong history of supporting passenger rail services in their states, and have engaged in substantial planning efforts to develop high-speed rail on this corridor. The states have received $620 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) funds to continue their efforts. Eventually, the Southeast Corridor is expected to use Atlanta as a regional hub, with connections from Atlanta east to Charlotte, south to Macon and Jacksonville, north to Chattanooga and west to Birmingham.
Fig 1

Summary of Corridor Investments
Charlotte - Raleigh: $520 million in funding will go to nearly 30 inter-related projects including the purchase and rehabilitation of locomotives and cars, track upgrades, and station security improvements.
Raleigh - Richmond: a grant of $25 million will fund important congestion mitigation, which will involve construction of four new crossovers. This will also aid the future development of high-speed rail lines between North Carolina and Virginia.
Richmond - Washington, D.C.: An ARRA investment of $75 million will go th to construction of a new high-speed rail track, more than 11 miles in length, between Richmond and Washington, DC. This project will eliminate one of the most severe bottlenecks along an extremely congested area on the Southeast Corridor.

Chicago - Detroit

The Chicago to Detroit corridor connects two of the largest cities in the Midwest, and also provides a link between neighboring states. The Obama Administration allocated $244 million to upgrade the corridor.
Fig 1

Summary of Corridor Investments
Michigan: A grant of $40 million from the ARRA will go toward renovating existing stations in the cities of Troy and Battle Creek, MI, and the construction of a new station in downtown Dearborn adjacent to the Henry Ford Museum.
Illinois: $133 million was allocated for the construction of a new flyover, approach bridges, embankment and retaining walls to complement additional investments in station renovations, and will also support the construction of three new tracks for trains operating east of Lake Michigan.
Indiana: An investment of $71 million in ARRA grants includes the relocation, reconfiguration, and addition of high-speed crossovers and related signal system improvements, rail line additions at two locations, and the creation of new passing tracks.

Cleveland - Columbus - Dayton - Cincinnati

Two hundred and fifty miles of new track will connect the four major metropolitan areas in Ohio: Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati. This significant route, named the 3C Corridor, will serve communities near Lake Erie, in Central Ohio, and the Tri-State region around Cincinnati. These metropolitan areas are among the largest in the United States that are currently not served by passenger rail. Nearly 40 colleges and universities lie in close proximity to the route, as do the headquarters of 22 Fortune 500 companies.
Fig 1

Summary of Corridor Investments
The $400 million investment will fund a number of projects across the state, including track upgrades, grade crossings, new stations, and maintenance facilities. This project will also include planning for necessary equipment that can support future service improvements.

Eugene, Portland, Seattle

The 467-mile long corridor connecting Eugene, Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, Canada is the backbone of intercity passenger rail in the Pacific Northwest. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grants of $600 million will further enhance service on a corridor where Washington and Oregon have already made substantial investments.
Fig 1

Summary of Corridor Investments
Seattle - Portland: A grant of $590 million from the ARRA will fund several construction projects including building bypass tracks to allow for increased train frequency and multiple upgrades to existing track and signal systems. Several safety-related projects will also be funded, including grade separations, positive train control, and seismic retrofits to Seattle’s historic King Street Station.
Portland - Eugene: An $8 million Investment will be used to upgrade Portland’s Union Station, and fund engineering and environmental work for track and signaling projects that will increase service reliability and reduce congestion.

Northeast region

The Northeast region currently has the most integrated passenger rail network in the country. The vision for these rail corridors is to invest $1.191 billion in simulis funning in projects that will boost speeds, cut trip times and strengthen the system as a real alternative to air and car travel.
Fig 1

Summary of Corridor Investments
Washington, D.C. - New York- Boston (Northeast Corridor): The Northeast Corridor is the spine of the region’s passenger rail network; 11.5 million passengers traveled this corridor in 2008, making it the busiest in the United States. An investment of $112 million will fund improvements including major, long-needed projects such as the completion of engineering and environmental work for a new tunnel in Baltimore and a new station at Baltimore-Washington International Airport. Projects will span Rhode Island, New Jersey, Maryland and Washington, D.C.
Philadelphia - Harrisburg: Recent major investments in this 110mph corridor have made it the second busiest in the region. Grants totaling $27 million will eliminate the three remaining grade crossings on the corridor, further improving the 110 mph service, and will fund a planning study for extention of the service to Pittsburgh.
New York - Albany - Buffalo: The 468-mile Empire Corridor connects all of New York’s largest cities. The $148 million ARRA grant will fund seven interrelated projects on this corridor, with one of the largest investments being the construction of a third track between Albany and Buffalo. The grant will also address signaling and interlocking improvements, upgrades to warning devices at grade crossings, and enhancements to stations in Rochester and Buffalo.
New York - Montreal: A grant of $3 million will fund construction of three miles of new track on this route to relieve congestion, which will improve on-time performance.
Boston - Portland - Brunswick: The corridor received $35 million to restore more than 30 miles of track, including 36 grade crossings, to extend new passenger rail service from Portland to Brunswick, ME.
New Haven - Springfield - Burlington - St. Albans: With $160 million in ARRA grants the vision for this corridor is to restore the alignment to its original route via the Knowledge Corridor in western Massachusetts. Of the $160 million grant, $70 million will go to fund track, passenger stations and signal upgrades to relocate the Amtrak Vermonter service to a more direct route in Massachusetts, $50 million will fund Vermonter New England Central Railroad route improvements in Vermont and another $40 million has been allocated to the construction of a new segment of second main track, which will increase reliability, improve service quality, and reduce trip times in Connecticut.
US states compete for high speed rail funding - TunnelTalk, Dec 2009
President Obama's vision for high-speed rail - TunnelTalk, Dec 2009
California to bring high speed rail to North America - Video - TunnelCast, Nov 2008
California fixes high-speed rail route - TunnelTalk, Jul 2008
California High Speed Rail plans - Video - TunnelCast, Nov 2008
America's high speed rail aspirations - TunnelTalk, Sept 2006
USA Federal High Speed Rail Corridors
United States Department of Transportation
California High Speed Rail Authority
Florida High Speed Rail
Transbay Terminal
Mexico High Speed Rail

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