May 9, 2011: Markey, Delegation: Mass to Benefit from $845 Million in Rejected Florida Rail Funding

BOSTON – Senator John Kerry, along with Representatives Edward Markey, Richard Neal, John Olver, John F. Tierney, Jim McGovern, Michael Capuano, Niki Tsongas, and William Keating, today announced that Massachusetts will benefit from more than $845 million in rejected high speed rail funding originally offered to Florida.
The United States Department of Transportation today awarded $795 million to the Northeast Corridor. Among other improvements, these funds will be used to increase speeds from 135 to 160 miles per hour on critical track segments, improve on-time performance, and add additional seats for passengers.
Additionally, Massachusetts will benefit from $50.8 million in other grants. Specifically, $20,822,341 was awarded for improvements on the Downeaster track – a large portion of which will be used for the construction of a second track on a 10.4 mile section of single track between Wilmington and Andover. Another $30,000,000 grant was awarded for improvements along the New Haven-Springfield track, including construction of additional double tracking on the Hartford, Connecticut to Springfield section of the New Haven - Springfield Corridor.
When Florida Governor Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for high speed rail projects in the state, Kerry along with the Massachusetts House delegation supported several bids to redistribute the dollars to Massachusetts.
“We didn’t waste a split second, we worked the phones, wrote the letters, and pursued this money because we know what it will do across New England,” said Sen. Kerry.  “Florida’s loss is our gain and Massachusetts stands ready to put this money to good use starting today. I couldn’t be prouder of our delegation’s creativity and initiative.”
Today’s announcement of $845 million in high speed rail funds is a victory for Massachusetts commuters that will position our transportation system for the future and put people to work on a critically needed infrastructure project," said Rep. Markey. "Our delegation in Congress, with excellent leadership from our state, teamed up to make the case for improved performance along the New England Corridor, and I look forward to the increase in convenience, on time performance and ridership that these improvements will produce in the future."
“As a longtime supporter of high speed rail in New England and throughout the Northeast corridor, today’s announcement brings us one step closer to achieving that important goal,” said Rep. Neal. “Making transportation quicker and more convenient will benefit our entire region, and it will also help grow the economy and much needed create jobs.”
“I am extremely pleased that the Department of Transportation has recognized the great need to fund passenger rail in Massachusetts and the Northeast,” said Rep. Olver. “These funds will support the improvement and further development of rail in the Northeast Corridor—the premier passenger rail line in the country.”
“The federal funds awarded to the New England Corridor will provide Massachusetts with critical support to enhance passenger rail service across our state,” said Rep. Tierney. “These projects, including the more than $20 million for the improvement of tracks between Wilmington and Andover, will increase on-time rail performance for area residents, create jobs and strengthen economic growth for local cities and towns.”

“This is terrific news for the Massachusetts economy,” said Rep. McGovern. “Increasing the speed along the Northeast Corridor will make the service much more attractive.”
“I am pleased that Massachusetts will have access to these federal stimulus funds which were rejected by the state of Florida,” said Rep. Capuano. “They will be used for important high speed rail improvements in the Northeast Corridor which will help rail passengers reach their destinations more quickly and attract additional riders.”
“The federal funds awarded today will help improve our transportation infrastructure both in the Fifth District and in Massachusetts,” said Rep. Niki Tsongas.  “These types of rail projects create jobs, decrease commute times and promote economic development which is why I will continue to advocate for these types of investments in our communities.”
“Strengthening Americans’ access to mass transit and railways has been a top priority of the Obama Administration, and one that I thoroughly support,” said Rep. Keating.  “Our country’s aging infrastructure needs modernization – perhaps nowhere more than in the New England Corridor, which is a heavily traveled region.  An added bonus is that high speed trains have the potential to be more fuel-efficient and environmentally sound than congested interstates and highways full of commuters in their cars.  I applaud the US Department of Transportation’s decision to redirect these funds to essential rail projects throughout New England. Residents from all corners of Massachusetts will directly benefit from track improvements, increased speeds and rail additions. This is a huge win for the Commonwealth.” 
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