Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is Senior Editor for Politics & Policy for WNYC News. She has previously served as Metro Editor, Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
Albany, NY (April 4, 2011)
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced he is seeking approximately $517 million in federal funding for eight projects that advance New York's high-speed rail plans.
"Days after my election as Governor, I began pushing for more federal money for high-speed rail because New York has projects across the state that are ready to go," Governor Cuomo said. "New York is embracing high-speed rail as a faster way to move people and products and drive our economy in the 21st century, and these federal resources would help us achieve these goals."
The projects cover an array of vital infrastructure upgrades across New York that will continue to lay the groundwork for wide-scale high-speed service in New York. The federal government has made $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funding available after it was returned by the State of Florida.
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The projects include:
Northeast Corridor Congestion Relief: Harold Interlocking: The largest application is for $294.7 million for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority's (MTA) Harold Interlocking plan.
This project calls for the construction of a new conflict-free route for Amtrak along two miles of the Northeast Corridor where Amtrak service must cross over a flow of MTA Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) trains, resulting in significant and routine delays for Northeast Corridor service, particularly during peak periods.
The Amtrak bypass routes that will be constructed as part of this project will greatly improve reliability, on-time performance, and travel time for existing Amtrak service between New York and Boston and will provide the direct path through Harold Interlocking that is needed to make high-speed rail possible on the Northeast Corridor in the future.
Moynihan Station Phase 2 Final Design Project: The Governor is seeking $49.8 million to fund the final design of Phase 2 of the Moynihan Station Project, providing new passenger and back-of-house facilities for Amtrak. The Project will improve operational reliability and on-time performance at the station by allowing trains and people to move more efficiently through the Penn Station complex.
Northeast Corridor Congestion Relief: New Upper Hudson Line High-Capacity Signal System - Croton to Poughkeepsie: The $112 million project will construct a new high-capacity signal system to replace the present outdated signal system between Croton-Harmon and Poughkeepsie. The project will provide for higher capacity and reliability to all users and will result in improved on-time-performance and increased capacity.
Empire Corridor Capacity Improvements: Final Phase Signal Improvements Hudson Line: At a cost of $18.6 million this project will replace the final 48 miles of the Hudson Line signal system between Poughkeepsie and Albany and bury the signal cable. The current system is 30 years old and outages in inclement weather account for most of the delay affecting all trains between Albany and New York City.
Empire Corridor Capacity Improvements: Final Phase 4th Track Construction at Rensselaer Station: This $35.4 million project will complete work at the new Rensselaer Station which was opened in 2002. The funding will be used to construct a new fourth track, extended platforms, realignment of existing tracks and new signal system.
Empire Corridor Capacity Improvements: Final Phase Track Construction at Schenectady Station: The Governor would use $4.1 million to make major upgrades to the Schenectady Station. Built in 1970, the station is in poor condition with inadequate track and platforms. CDTA has designed a new station and tracks and has State and local funding in place for constructing the station. This project will provide for construction of the track and platforms and complete the funding package necessary for the Schenectady Station replacement.
Empire Corridor West: Rochester Intermodal Station: The City of Rochester plans to replace the inadequate, 37 year old temporary Rochester Station with a new Rochester Intermodal Station. This $1.4 million project would complete the preliminary engineering and environmental work.
Empire Corridor West: Niagara Falls High-speed Rail Inspection and Maintenance Facility: This project will use $1.75 million to conduct the preliminary engineering and environmental analysis necessary to construct the first heated, in-door maintenance facility west of Schenectady on the Empire Corridor West. Employees at the present facility built in 1978 service 728 locomotives, 2,912 coaches and 728 food service cars annually. The facility has no enclosed heated building to thaw out frozen equipment and Amtrak mechanics must use torpedo heaters and hand held torches to get equipment operating. This project will prepare the construction of an enclosed heated building, inspection pit, compressed plant air, and a track catch basin in which to capture water and oils.
Senator Charles Schumer said, "This application, with projects from Moynihan Station to the Intermodal Station in Rochester to Niagara Falls, is full of job-creating projects that will bring our rail system into the 21st century. I strongly support these projects, and will push the Department of Transportation to send the necessary high-speed rail funds to New York as soon as possible so that we can put people to work today building the high-speed transportation network of tomorrow."
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "I commend Governor Cuomo for pushing for more federal money for high-speed rail in New York State. I have been urging Secretary LaHood for additional funds, because if we're going to rebuild our economy and create new jobs across the state, we need to connect all of our communities, businesses and workers with high-speed rail. The construction and development of high-speed rail can create new jobs immediately, and help drive New York's economic development for decades."
Congressman Paul Tonko said, "These rail improvements will create jobs, add to our transportation options, reduce our dependence on foreign oil, and help clean up our environment. I commend Governor Cuomo for his leadership on this issue and look forward to continuing to improve our infrastructure to out-build our global competitors and make New York State a great place to work, live and start a small business."
New York State Department of Transportation Commissioner Joan McDonald said, "I applaud Governor Cuomo for submitting these applications on behalf of New York's transportation agencies. The Northeast Corridor is the largest and most complex passenger and freight rail corridor in the Western Hemisphere. As the stewards of our State's efforts to make high speed rail a reality, we look to FRA for continued support of these vital projects."