Citing unnamed White House sources, Washington press outlets report this morning that President Obama has chosen a wide distribution plan for the first $8 billion in federal high-speed and intercity passenger rail funds: 31 states will get money to start developing new high-speed rail corridors or to upgrade existing lines for faster train service.
The grants, to be announced Thursday in Tampa, will include grants on 13 major corridors and smaller awards to improve existing lines.
North Carolina is among the contenders for rail money, with a request for $5.7 billion to build out its fast-train network from Charlotte through Raleigh to Richmond. Virginia is picking up the plan for getting the train from Richmond to Washington. The two states began developing the planned Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor in the early 1990s.
When Obama announced the plan to invest in fast train networks a year ago, he called the $8 billion allocated by Congress in federal stimulus funds a "down payment." He proposed an additional $1 billion a year for the next five years.
In this year's budget, Congress has approved a second dose of $2.5 billion for high-speed and intercity rail. That money is expected to be distributed in coming weeks.