Western High Speed Rail Alliance Endorses Change to Allow Local Authorities to Apply for Federal High Speed Rail Funds

LAS VEGAS -- The Western High Speed Rail Alliance today endorsed a change in current law to allow qualified consortiums of Metropolitan Planning Organizations (MPOs), local transportation authorities and local governments to apply directly for federal high speed intercity passenger rail funds.


In a letter to the leadership of U.S. Senate and House transportation committees, the alliance urged Congress to change the law that now makes only states eligible to apply for high speed rail funds.


“Recently, some governors have rejected federal high speed rail funds.  It is our understanding that discussions were previously underway to perhaps allow a consortium of political subdivisions to accept funds intended for high speed rail awarded to the state of Florida.  Such an action – applied nationwide -- would be wholly consistent with our future goals,” the alliance said in its letter.


The Western High Speed Rail Alliance is comprised of five transportation authorities in Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah.  The WHSRA envisions the following city pairs for intercity high speed passenger rail service:  Reno-Sacramento; Reno-Salt Lake City; Denver-Salt Lake City; Phoenix-Los Angeles; Phoenix-Las Vegas; Palmdale-Victorville (CA); and Salt Lake City-Las Vegas.  These routes would connect to other regional high speed rail systems to form a national system accessible to most Americans.


The Federal Railroad Administration has awarded $1 million to begin feasibility studies for high speed rail in Arizona, Nevada and California. The alliance said it will continue to partner with state departments of transportation and governors.


However, the alliance said it believes “that permitting MPOs and other entities with substantial transportation planning experience to apply directly for federal high speed rail funds would incentivize cooperation among regions, advance the intensity of high speed rail planning in the U.S., and provide for ‘last mile’ corridors within our jurisdictions that connect to other modes of transportation.”


The alliance letter was sent to Sens. John D. Rockefeller and Kay Bailey Hutchison, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and to Reps. John L. Mica and Nick J. Rahall III, the chairman and ranking member, respectively, of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.



Contact:           Doug Richardson, 202-414-6178