High Speed Rail a Priority for White House

President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden and Sec. of Transportation Ray LaHood held a press conference today to announce a new U.S. push to transform travel in America, creating high-speed rail lines from city to city, reducing dependence on cars and planes and spurring economic development.

The President laid out two priorities: fixing existing routes to reduce transit times and constructing new world-class high speed rail lines.

Obama released a strategic plan that identifies $8 billion provided in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $1 billion a year for five years requested in the federal budget as a down payment to jump-start a potential world-class passenger rail system and sets the direction of transportation policy for the future. The strategic plan will be followed by detailed guidance for state and local applicants. By late summer, the Federal Railroad Administration will begin awarding the first round of grants.

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