On Friday, the House passed the Energy and Water Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2012 that would redirect $1 billion in unobligated high-speed rail funds for flood relief efforts in the Midwest. $833 million was awarded to the tri-state region in May, and much of it is still at risk because it has not yet been formally obligated to projects.
The May awardees include $450 million for electrical improvements on the Northeast Corridor in New Jersey, $295 million to untangle the Harold Interlocking in Queens, $58 million in upstate New York, and $30 million for the New Haven-Springfield line in Connecticut.
NJ Congressman Rod Frelinghuysen, responsible for the proposal to redirect rail funds away from his own state, has been sharply criticized in the press.
The Senate is unlikely to support such a proposal in its version of the bill. Furthermore, Streetsblog Capitol Hill’s Tanya Snyder reports that “if USDOT acts fast to release the money, it will no longer be sitting in federal coffers, open to rescission when the House bill takes effect.” New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood last week, urging him to expedite the release of $450 million in funding that will reduce delays and significantly improve rail lines that serve Amtrak and NJ Transit riders in New Jersey.