NEC Praises Nearly $850M Awarded by U.S. Department of Transportation for Rail Improvements in Northeast

Business group lauds funding that will create jobs, boost economic development

BOSTON (May 9, 2011)– The New England Council, a non-partisan alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations throughout New England, praised the Obama Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation  (DOT) for the nearly $850 million awarded to Amtrak and to several New England states to make improvements to high speed rail in the Northeast.  Earlier today, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced the allocation of $2 billion in high speed rail funding that the state of Florida had rejected earlier this year.  Of those funds, nearly $800 million was awarded for improvements to the Northeast Corridor that connects New England with economic centers in New York and Washington, DC.  An additional $51 million was awarded to New England states for other high speed rail projects.

“The Obama Administration’s decision to award nearly $850 million in funding to rail projects that will benefit the New England states is a major win for the region, and a wise investment by the federal government,” said James T. Brett, President & CEO of The New England Council.  “Not only will this funding make significant improvements to transportation infrastructure in our region, but the projects funded will help create thousands of manufacturing and construction jobs for New Englanders.  In addition, the region will reap long-term economic benefits as our region’s key economic centers are better connected within the region, and throughout the entire Northeast.”

The New England Council has long supported investment in high speed rail improvements as integral to economic growth in the six-state region.  The DOT today announced funding for several significant projects that will significantly benefit the New England region:

  • Northeast Corridor – The DOT announced an unprecedented $795 million to upgrade some of the most heavily-used segments of the Northeast Corridor, which connects New England to New York City and Washington, DC.  This includes $450 million to Amtrak to increase capacity, reliability, and speed.  In addition, several states along the corridor will receive funding for various improvements, including approximately $28 million to Rhode Island for track, station, and platform improvements.
  • Springfield-New Haven Line – The DOT has awarded $30 million to Connecticut to help complete double-track segments between Springfield, MA, and New Haven, CT.  This funding will improve intercity rail service along the so-called “Knowledge Corridor” in Western Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Vermont.
  • Downeaster Corridor – $20.8 million was awarded to construct a 10.4 mile section of double track between Wilmington and Andover, MA, improving performance and dependability on the Downeaster line that connects Boston, MA, and Portland, ME.

This funding will have a tremendous impact on New England and on the region’s economy.  Some of the specific benefits include:

  • Improvements to these rail corridors will give commuters more options and will decrease travel times, while also alleviating traffic in our congested New England cities and towns.
  • Expanded intercity rail will also minimize fuel consumption, as well as carbon emissions.  These projects have the potential to create thousands of jobs in construction of tracks and stations, manufacturing of locomotives and rail cars, and eventually, additional conductors and train operators.
  • By expanding and enhancing regional rail, New England’s economic centers will be better connected, promoting economic growth and development.
  • Improved regional rail will also help encourage other transit-related development, such as clusters of housing and businesses around rail stations.

For more information on The New England Council and its work to support investment in transportation infrastructure and high speed rail, please visit www.newenglandcouncil.com/issues/transportation/.

The New England Council, the country’s oldest regional business organization, is an alliance of businesses, academic and health institutions, and public and private organizations throughout New England formed to promote economic growth and a high quality of life in the region.  The Council is dedicated to identifying and supporting federal public policies and articulating the voice of its membership regionally and nationally on important issues facing New England.  The NEC is also committed to working with public and private sector leaders across the region and in Washington through educational programs and forums for information exchange.  For more information, please visit: www.newenglandcouncil.com.

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