USDOT announced today that it has released $745 million for two high-speed rail projects to improve service on the Northeast Corridor in New Jersey and New York. The move ensures that Amtrak will receive the grants, which were put at risk when the House voted to cut high-speed rail funding and use the funds for flood relief instead as part of an energy and water appropriations bill. (Some rail projects elsewhere in the country may still be at risk; the bill is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee).
New Jersey Senators Frank Lautenberg and Robert Menendez sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in July urging that USDOT release the funds before they could be rescinded by potential Congressional action. Elected officials in both New York and New Jersey helped push for the Northeast Corridor grants, which were awarded in May after Florida rejected its grant.
One $450 million grant will be used for catenary wire and other improvements between Trenton and New York City and create a 24-mile segment of track capable of supporting train speeds up to 160 mph between Trenton and New Brunswick, NJ, according to USDOT. The other $295 million grant will untangle the Harold Interlocking in Queens, a convergence of tracks where Amtrak, LIRR, and NJ Transit trains (headed to a storage yard in Queens) merge.
The reliability improvements in New Jersey should provide relief for NJ Transit and Amtrak riders, who have suffered through another delay-filled summer on the Northeast Corridor. Clearing up the interlocking will reduce delays for both Amtrak and the LIRR.
Photo: Via wn.com.