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Charlotte Area News

$1.2 Billion Up For Grabs, LaHood Says

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Wedneday that North Carolina is in the running to grab a share of $1.2 billion in high-speed rail money that had been allocated to other states. The money is part of $8 billion in stimulus money awarded earlier this year for high-speed rail projects across the country, including North Carolina. About $810 million was awarded to Wisconsin, $400 million to Ohio. But U.S Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood says the election has changed where that money is going. The incoming Republican governors in Ohio (John Kasich) and Wisconsin (Scott Walker) want the money to be spent on other transportation needs like roads and bridges. LaHood says that's not going to happen. "There are a couple of governors-elect that have said they don't know if they can afford to be in the high-speed rail business, and the reason I mention that is we are going to be reallocating money from Ohio and Wisconsin," LaHood said at a gathering of political, business and transportation leaders in Charlotte's Knight Theatre. LaHood made no promises, but says North Carolina is in a good position to get a share of the money because the state appears committed to high-speed rail. Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx says that it's exciting news, but noted LaHood didn't provide details. "The Secretary was a little coy about exactly what it means, and that's OK. The gist of it is he see's North Carolina as a real player in high-speed rail," Foxx said. North Carolina and Virginia received $620 million in stimulus money in January to upgrade rail service from Charlotte to Washington, D.C. The goal is for trains to reach top speeds of 110 mph. Letter Ohio's incoming governor sent to President Obama outlining plans to stop the state's rail projects. View video of Secretary LaHood answering question from the audience.