The state of Missouri will apply for nearly $1 billion in newly available federal railroad funds, Gov. Jay Nixon said today. The application will include a two-phase proposal: immediate upgrades to improve speeds and schedule reliability along existing rail lines between St. Louis and Kansas City; and longer-term design, engineering and preparation for construction of a separate, dedicated high-speed line between the two cities. The immediate upgrades would create more than 1,300 jobs in Missouri over the next few years.
The Governor made the announcement today in suburban St. Louis at the Kirkwood train station, which serves Amtrak customers on the St. Louis to Kansas City line. Gov. Nixon was joined by Missouri Department of Transportation Director Kevin Keith, whose department will submit the application to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Railroad Administration.
If granted, about $373 million of the federal funds would be used in the immediate future for significant improvements and upgrades to rail equipment and infrastructure, and would complement the high-speed rail project already underway in the St. Louis to Chicago corridor. Another $600 million would be used over the longer term to complete necessary planning and design for building the separate, dedicated high-speed line across Missouri, and for purchasing necessary properties.
Gov. Nixon said the newly available funding presents a tremendous opportunity for job creation and greater transportation options in Missouri.
"The design, planning and construction of this project would create high-paying jobs in communities across Missouri over the next several years, and provide the necessary resources to prepare for construction of a dedicated high-speed passenger line," Gov. Nixon said. "It would be a transformative step for Missouri, both in terms of the jobs created and in developing this mode of transportation between our state's two largest metropolitan areas and the cities along the route, including the state capital."
Earlier this month, the federal government announced it would seek state applications for additional high-speed intercity passenger rail program funding that recently became available. States have a deadline of April 4 to apply for the reallocated funds in the competitive process; the funds may be awarded among several applicants.
For the past two years, Gov. Nixon has been working cooperatively with the state of Illinois on pursuing funds for development of the St. Louis to Chicago high-speed rail corridor; in addition, Missouri also has already received $32 million in federal funding for improvements to the St. Louis to Kansas City corridor.
"Today we are laying the groundwork necessary to ensure that Missouri's passenger rail service is a viable, stable transportation option well into the future," Director Keith said. "Transportation is personal and with rising fuel prices, Missourians need and deserve reliable options. This application is a dramatic step forward in ensuring rock-solid, on-time performance; and new, modern and more efficient train equipment for the Missouri River Runner service. This funding would also allow MoDOT to study the feasibility of increasing passenger train speeds on certain sections of this corridor, while also planning for construction of a dedicated high-speed line in the future."
The Missouri application is seeking funding for a variety of immediate projects that will include new sidings, mainlines, bridges, removal of grade crossings, train cars, and other equipment and infrastructure to enable Amtrak trains traveling between St. Louis and Kansas City to travel at greater speeds than they currently do, with greater schedule reliability. Train service also would be enhanced by improvements to the station at Jefferson City. The longer-term planning money would fund preliminary design, engineering and preparation for the building of a true high-speed rail line between the two cities.
"This is an exciting opportunity in terms of both transportation and economic development that we will not let go by," Gov. Nixon said. "We will submit an extremely competitive application and work aggressively to turn these funds into new jobs and economic growth here in Missouri."