As North Carolina prepares to bid for several hundred million dollars in federal stimulus grants for fast passenger train improvements, Transportation Secretary Gene Conti is taking a leadership role in a national group of state officials that lobbies the government on rail issues.
Conti is the new chairman of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) Standing Committee on Rail Transportation. The group makes recommendations on federal passenger and freight rail policies that affect the states.
“Hopefully that will position us to be first in line for some of this money,” Conti told Triangle business and government leaders at a Regional Transportation Alliance breakfast today in downtown Raleigh. “And I think we’re excited about the prospects.”
Conti said he is “very optimistic” about North Carolina’s hope for winning hundreds of millions of dollars as its part of $8 billion in federal stimulus grants to be awarded for high-speed and intercity passenger rail service.
North Carolina and Virginia have worked to improve travel times on the Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor from Washington, D.C., to Charlotte. That means better rail service for the Triangle, in both directions.
“Obviously Raleigh is right in the heart of that corridor,” Conti said. “We will be working with folks here to make sure we’re making the improvements to provide that service, both north and south.”