Florida rejects, New York gladly accepts.
Officials this week were notified by the federal Department of Transportation that New York will receive $800 million in funding for high-speed rail projects throughout the state, including the improvement of the Harold Interlocking at the Sunnyside Rail Yards.
The money is part of $2.4 billion that was turned away by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. Gov. Cuomo and Metropolitan Transportation Authority CEO Jay Walder applied for the grant in April.
According to Rep. Carolyn Maloney’s (D-Queens and Manhattan) office, approximately $295 million will allow the MTA to construct a bypass that would provide Amtrak with conflict-free access to the Harold Interlocking, reducing delays for trains to and from Boston and paving the way for high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor.
The interlocking, Maloney’s office explained, is the busiest passenger rail signal and switching array in North America, with 783 trains moving through each day from the Long Island Rail Road, Amtrak and New Jersey Transit.Because of the way it is constructed, conflicts among the lines are frequent, resulting in constant delays and disruptions at Penn Station and on the Northeast Corridor.
Maloney and other elected officials thanked Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and hailed the infusion of funds that they said will enhance high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor.
“Amtrak will soon have a ‘fast track’ through Harold Interlocking, a bottleneck that has bedeviled New York train passengers for years,” Maloney said. “Right now, three major transit systems all funnel into this one junction and rack up major delays in the process.”
U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-New York) asserted that there is a demand to increase rail transit in the state and across the Northeast, and “these investments will make a major impact in meeting that demand by relieving congestion and increasing the reliability of service.”
Mayor Bloomberg called the redirection of funds an “important investment in the future of our city’s and nation’s economy.
“This is a first-step towards something we should have invested in long ago — true high-speed rail along the Northeast Corridor,” Bloomberg added. “The region is the largest driver of our economy and home to nation’s major centers of business, government, finance, medicine, entrepreneurship and education.”