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State seeks $138.1 million in federal grants for rail improvements

ALBANY – The State Department of Transportation submitted ten applications for $138.1 million in competitive grant funding for high-speed rail improvement projects across the state from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) under the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program. Applications were invited in support of high-speed intercity passenger rail corridor development and rail congestion relief projects and were submitted last week. The grants require a minimum 20 percent non-federal funding match.

"The new projects we're proposing will move us toward that goal, benefitting New Yorkers and their businesses from Long Island to Plattsburgh to Niagara Falls and everywhere in between", State Department of Transportation Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee said.

FRA will award funds from a discretionary program with $245 million for individual projects for enhancements to high-speed rail corridors, including four segments in New York State: the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C. and Boston, the Empire Corridor between New York City and Niagara Falls, and the rail line between Albany, N.Y., and Rutland, Vt., and the Adirondack Corridor from New York City to Montreal.

In March of last year, Governor David Paterson released the 2009 New York State Rail Plan, the first comprehensive update of the State's rail strategy in 22 years and a prerequisite for future federal funding for rail capital improvement projects. Last year, the FRA awarded New York State $151 million in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding for high-speed intercity passenger rail improvements.

"Rail transportation is critical to New York State's economy, mobility and environmental health," Paterson said. "We are seeking these grants, in addition to the $151 million already received, to further assist our efforts to modernize our rail infrastructure, increase the speed and reliability of passenger rail service, reduce travel times, strengthen our freight rail system and create and maintain jobs across the state."