A Republican push to reject $461 million in federal railroad improvement grants for North Carolina appears to have collapsed. [4/10/11 update: more details in today's story.]
The high-speed rail kill bill championed by Rep. Ric Killian of Charlotte was pulled Friday from the agenda of the House Transportation Committee, which had been scheduled to vote on the measure next week. Killian's bill was attacked at this week's committee meeting by Democrats, mayors and business advocates.
The Charlotte Business Journal reports that another Mecklenburg County Republican, Sen. Bob Rucho of Matthews, said at a Charlotte business meeting Friday that GOP leaders agreed that North Carolina should keep the $545 million in high-speed and intercity passenger rail grants awarded in early 2010 by the Obama administration.
"We'll support the $545 million," Rucho said on video.
The Obama administration has committed $520 million of the money to North Carolina and negotiations are under way for the remaining $25 million grant announced last year. This money comes without requirement for any matching state funds for capital improvement, but the state is committed to pay future maintenance and operation costs.
The first $59 million was committed late last year and is being spent now.
North Carolina secured $461 million in federal stimulus grants last month after fighting off eleventh-hour efforts by Norfolk Southern Railway to extract new concessions -- easy terms on a federal grant for an unrelated rail project in Illinois, and a pledge that NCDOT would ignore court orders unfavorable to Norfolk Southern -- in exchange for its signature on a related rail operation agreement.