Here's a link to the FRA press release announcing the projects that did get funded.
Vermonters were disappointed to learn that we again did not receive funds for the vital "Western Corridor" which connects Rutland and Burlington to New York and Montreal.
Vermont had applied for $80 million dollars of high speed rail funds from $2.4 billion award that had been rejected by Florida.
Sen. Dick Mazza, D-Grand Isle/Chittenden, said “To receive nothing is very disappointing. From all indications we got from the congressional folks, we certainly had a case," Mazza told the Burlington Free Press. "This grant would have been really, really beneficial to the economy of Vermont. But like I said, I’ve been at this for many years, and we’re not about to give up.”
The total available was reduced from $2.4 billion to $2 billion by house Republicans as part of budget cuts in the 2011 "continuing resolution" budget.
Twenty four states submitted applications totaling $10 billion dollars for those funds. Most of the projects were good ones and deserve to be built.
The Department of Transportation appears to have followed the "spread it around" theory of dispersing the money, making awards to 15 states.
Why did Vermont not get the funds? We can only speculate. Our application was solid. But the money was awarded to projects in areas with greater population on existing routes.
The larger problem is that we are not spending enough on infrastructure. This is a national concern. But like some other issues, this may be something that Vermont can take the lead on, finding our own solutions with local resources.
The Shumlin administration was quick to point out that several awards in other states will benefit Vermonters, notably improvements between Albany and New York and Springfield Mass and New Haven Connecticut. This is true.
“While I wish that Vermont’s application for high speed rail funds had been accepted, today’s announcement by Secretary LaHood is very helpful in achieving our goal of high speed rail from New York to Montreal with a spur to Boston,” Shumlin said in a prepared statement. “The investments being made to our south will be critical to our success.”
Connecticut added $30 million to it's project of double tracking between New Haven and Hartford and New York state recived $58 million to fund work between Schenctady and New York including a new station in Schenectady, construction of a fourth station track at the congested Albany-Rensselaer station and new burried signal cableing along the Hudson (which had become unreliable every time there was a storm).
Restoring the rail line will position this part of the state for economic success in a future with diminishing energy choices. Infrastructure is destiny, as the community grows around it. Infrastructure facilitates life and commerce.
Better rail service will benefit travelers and freight shippers, but it also becomes a community asset, benefiting everyone.
The Vermont Rail Action Network is the citizens voice for better rail service in Vermont. We have helped mobilize support for the Western Corridor. It's our number 1 priority, both for passenger service and because it will improve the freight infrastructure. More information is at www.RailVermont.org