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Second round of high-speed rail funding expected in the coming weeks

John H Gray
via Flickr
Amtrak trains, like this one outside of Rochester, could move a lot faster between Albany and Buffalo if the state makes upgrades to the Empire Corridor.

It’s almost Christmas for high-speed rail enthusiasts: the second round of federal stimulus money for rail projects is expected to be dished out in October. That’s according to Rep. Dan Maffei (D-25).

In mid-August, New York officially sent off its application to the Federal Railroad Administration, requesting $138 million in high-speed rail funding. Topping the list of projects in the application: building an international train station in Niagara Falls, providing congestion relief in Syracuse, and bridge work on the Livingston Avenue Bridge in the Rensselaer-Albany area.

When New York was awarded approximately $150 million in the first round, the big money went to renovations of train stations in Buffalo and Rochester, and to the capital region to smooth out the single-track bottleneck between Schenectady and Albany.

But despite the snub to Syracuse in the funding allocation, Maffei says those improvements should pay dividends across the rail system.

“One of the things that’s important to know from Syracuse is that even if the funds are spent in the Albany area, that benefits us,” said Maffei.

For those of you just checking in with recent high-speed rail developments in New York, here are the Cliffnotes:

  1.  Feb. 2009: Congress allocates $8 billion in the Recovery Act for high-speed rail nationwide.
  2.  July 2009: Syracuse and Utica are awarded $1 million to make signal improvements, thanks to the U.S. House transportation subcommittee. 
  3.  January 2010: New York is awarded $151 million of the $8 billion. Congress makes an additional $2.5 billion available for HSR. That’s on top of the original $8 billion.
  4. October 2010: The winners of the second round of HSR money are expected to be announced. New York is eligible to receive a portion of that money.