North Carolina will get just $1.5 million of the high-speed rail money recently spurned by new Republican leaders in Ohio and Wisconsin, Ray LaHood, the U.S. transportation secretary, said today.
Most of the $1.195 billion originally designated for the two midwestern states will be spent instead on the nation's three most ambitious passenger rail projects -- two in California ($624 million) and one in Florida ($342 million). The remaining 11 states receiving shares range from Washington state ($162 million) and Illinois ($42 million) to Indiana ($365,000), with North Carolina third from the bottom.
LaHood, a Republican serving in the administration of Democratic President Barack Obama, had generated higher hopes when he told a Charlotte audience Nov. 17 that North Carolina could expect good news when DOT redistributed the Ohio and Wisconsin money. "You all are going to be in the high-speed rail business," he said then.
The money became available after the November elections. Republican John Kasich, Ohio's governor-elect, said he would reject more than $400 million promised by the Obama administration for passenger train service there. Scott Walker, the Republican governor-elect in Wisconsin, promised to cancel a project that had won $810 million in high-speed rail grants.
North Carolina and Virginia won federal grants totaling $623 million in January and an additional $68 million in October for the shared Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor from Charlotte to Washington. The two states have asked for $7.1 billion to complete the 475-mile project.
The Obama administration now has promised California $3.87 billion and Florida $2.79 billion for their fast-train projects.