Push on for high-speed rail for Gulf states

WASHINGTON — Hoping to tap into a new pot of money, officials from Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi pressed congressional lawmakers and federal rail officials last week to support a plan to offer high-speed rail service in the Gulf Coast region.

The federal government set aside $8 billion for high-speed rail as part of the $787 billion economic stimulus bill President Barack Obama signed into law in February.

The windfall – added at the White House’s request during last-minute congressional negotiations – was a welcome surprise for many high-speed rail advocates.

“The stimulus money moves things along much further,” said Karen Parsons, executive director of the Southern High-Speed Rail Commission, which is pushing high-speed passenger rail service on the Gulf Coast.

The Gulf Coast corridor is one of the 10 routes the federal government has designated as high-speed rail corridors.

Clarion-Ledger DC Bureau 4/6/9