February 16, 2011

Gillibrand Urges Transportation Secretary Lahood to Redirect $2.4 Billion in High-Speed Rail Funding Rejected by Florida to New York

Gillibrand: “High-Speed Rail Funds for New York Would Create Jobs, Boost Economy”

Washington, D.C.—With today’s decision by Florida Governor Rick Scott to turn away federal funding for the development of high-speed passenger rail, U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand immediately wrote to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood urging him to redirect the $2.4 billion in funding towards high-speed rail projects for New York’s Empire and Northeast Corridors.

Advancing high-speed rail for New York, which has one of the nation’s most heavily utilized rail corridors, would create jobs, help rebuild the economy, and improve high-speed rail lines to New York City, Albany, Toronto and Montreal.

Senator Gillibrand wrote in a letter to Transportation Secretary Lahood, “These investments will create jobs, spur economic development, and continue to build on the growth of ridership we’ve seen in recent years… You are keenly aware of the benefits that high-speed rail development would bring New York and the United States, which is why I respectfully request that these dismissed funds be re-appropriated to New York and the Northeast Corridor, where they are both desired and would help demonstrate the benefits that our shared commitment to modernizing the nation’s rail infrastructure would have on the country’s future economic growth.” 

Senator Gillibrand’s full letter to Secretary LaHood:

Dear Secretary LaHood,

I am writing in regard to Florida Governor Rick Scott’s decision to forgo federal funds for development of high-speed passenger rail.  I strongly urge you to re-appropriate this funding for rail development on New York’s Empire and Northeast Corridors.

As Governor Cuomo indicated in his November letter to you, New York State stands ready to put these dollars to good use in developing the next generation of American passenger rail.  These investments will create jobs, spur economic development, and continue to build on the growth of ridership we’ve seen in recent years. 

Last year, New York’s rail lines saw, on average, double digit increases in ridership with the Albany to Toronto line ridership increasing by nearly 14 percent, Albany to Montreal by 13 percent, and a 6 percent increase on the already well-traveled Albany and New York City line.  The Northeast Corridor, the most heavily utilized rail corridor in the nation, saw an increase of more than 4 percent, further illustrating the commitment to passenger rail in our region.   

You are keenly aware of the benefits that high-speed rail development would bring New York and the United States, which is why I respectfully request that these dismissed funds be re-appropriated to New York and the Northeast Corridor, where they are both desired and would help demonstrate the benefits that our shared commitment to modernizing the nation’s rail infrastructure would have on the country’s future economic growth. 

I thank you for your attention to this request, and welcome the opportunity to further discuss the benefits that additional resources for high-speed rail development in New York would have in revitalizing the nation’s economy for generations to come.  I thank you for your continued commitment to developing access and modernizing America’s transportation systems, and will continue to work with you to promote those goals.