by Robert Cruickshank
California has some competition - 39 competitors, if you're counting by state. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood made that statement at a press conference in Las Vegas yesterday:
On Monday Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that 40 states had submitted 270 high-speed rail pre-applications seeking to qualify for stimulus money.
A total of $93 billion has been preliminarily requested. The Transport Politic offers a great overview of the state applications. California represents $22.3 billion of that total:
Caltrans met the Friday deadline to submit preliminary applications for $22.3 billion in passenger and high-speed rail projects in three main corridors: San Francisco-San Jose (which includes improvements to San Francisco's Transbay Terminal), Los Angeles-Anaheim and the Central Valley.
Many of these applications were for "regional" multi-state projects, such as the New England and the Midwest.
Nevada also submitted a multi-billion request, entirely for the maglev project:
Neil Cummings, president of the American Magline Group, the private consortium of firms that would develop the maglev line, said the commission proposed building the first, 40-mile segment between Las Vegas and Primm. The cost would be $1.6 billion.
The group also submitted a second application to the Transportation Department for planning money to continue developing the line to Anaheim.
DesertXpress, for its part, didn't put in an application for HSR stimulus funds, but intends to make use of the planned national infrastructure bank program to finance up to 70% of the estimated $5 billion cost, according to the Las Vegas Sun.
I confess I would be surprised if maglev got much money out of this. Ray LaHood has previously said that California and Florida are in the lead for HSR funds, and although that doesn't guarantee a thing, we've always anticipated CA could get as much as $3-$4 billion of the HSR stimulus funds.
As far as I can tell that should remain the case. The Midwestern application has its issues, including what Ray LaHood has described as a lack of leadership. New England's application is interesting but as they already have the Acela, one might expect USDOT to spread the money around a bit.
We'll find out later this fall what the USDOT's final decision is.
PS: Apologies for the spotty posting of late. I came down with the flu while in LA last weekend, and I'm only just now coming out of the worst of it.