Cuomo Pushes For More High-Speed Rail Money

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It’s the third day after Andrew Cuomo was elected governor, and he’s already pushing for more money from the federal government for high-speed rail.

The Republicans governors-elect in Ohio and Wisconsin have been critical of the money those states received for high-speed rail. Cuomo said if those states don’t want the money, New York will gladly take it.

About $810 million was allocated in Wisconsin for a high-speed rail line connecting Milwaukee and Madison. Ohio is slated to receive $450 million for a line between Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.

Cuomo, a Democrat, sent a letter today U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking that if those states do not want the money, LaHood should redirect the $1.26 billion to New York.

In January, New York received just $151 million for high-speed rail initiatives, part of $8 billion that was designated nationally. New York has long had a goal of building high-speed rail from Buffalo to New York City, and the initiative has been seen as a key economic driver for upstate.

“High speed rail is critical to building the foundation for future economic growth, especially Upstate. If these governors-elect follow through on their promises to cancel these projects, a Cuomo administration would move quickly to put the billions in rejected stimulus funding towards projects that would create thousands of good jobs for New Yorkers,” Cuomo, a former HUD secretary, said in a statement.

His letter is below.

November 5, 2010

Hon. Ray LaHood
Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590

Dear Secretary LaHood:

High speed rail could be transformative for New York—with the potential to revitalize Upstate New York’s economy with construction jobs now and permanent jobs created by the new high speed rail links to New York City, Toronto and Montreal in the future. That is why I made high speed rail a priority during my campaign, and that is why it will continue to be a top priority for me as Governor.

To date, New York has received only a small fraction of federal money for high speed rail, but we want to make it a success now, and my Administration will aggressively pursue all funding opportunities to make high speed rail a reality. Recent reports have stated that incoming Administrations in other states, particularly Ohio and Wisconsin, are seeking to cancel their high speed rail projects and the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid associated with those projects. Therefore, I would ask you to consider redirecting the federal funding to New York because the project is a top priority.

High speed rail could be the 21st Century Erie Canal for New York State and help rebuild Upstate New York’s economy. Now is the moment to build. Thank you for the consideration and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate and call.

Best wishes,

Andrew M. Cuomo
Governor-Elect

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