And the Pennsylvania rail candidates are…
Of the 278 state applications submitted for the rail stimulus funding, Pennsylvania proposed four projects: 1) Keystone East Corridor Philadelphia-Harrisburg upgrades, 2) Keystone West Corridor Harrisburg-Pittsburgh expansion study, 3) Scranton to New York Passenger Rail restoration, and 4) the Pittsburgh High-Speed MagLev Rail.
The East Corridor is an established line, currently handling an average of fourteen round-trips between the two cities, and the stimulus funds would focus on station improvements and speed increases. The West Corridor, on the other hand, would need a significantly larger overhaul for passenger rail, since the current Norfolk Southern operated line mostly handles freight transport, with one passenger round-trip between Pittsburgh and New York. Funding for the Scranton project would implement the first phase of the rail line’s restoration, providing a connection to Hoboken, NJ. The service was shut down in the 1970s, but local residents rallied around bringing the line back into the area. Finally, construction of the Pittsburgh magnetic levitation rail would provide a high-speed transit option between the airport and downtown region.
These projects were submitted for the pre-application, and the next stage will involve discussions over the eligibility of the projects. All together, the cost to fund all of the projects will be $6.8 billion. Seeing as how the pool of available money equals $8 billion for all of the projects (proposed by all of the states), it is unlikely that the entirety of the Pennsylvania request will be be honored. It is unclear what sort of stipulations will be placed on funding eligibility at this time and which projects will take priority. What is known is that three funding tracks exist, as outlined in the administration’s Vision for High Speed Rail In America: so-called “shovel ready” projects, corridor programs, and planning. Since each Pennsylvania proposal can fall into a different category, it is likely that more than one of these projects will receive partial, if not full, funding.
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