Award–winning journalist Andrea Bernstein is the Metro Editor for WNYC News. She has previously served as Political Director, Director of Transportation Nation, and Senior Reporter.
The White House has now officially released its list of high speed rail corridors getting money from the $8 billion stimulus grants – and the big winners are California, Florida, Missouri, Wisconsin, and North Carolina.
All purple states, with the exception of course of California (getting a total of $2.34 billion for rail), which was un-ignorable in this contest: The Golden State has already raised $9 billion in bond-act money and set up a high speed rail commission. But, for the beleaguered White House, it’s a happy confluence of politics and policy that Florida already had acquired rights for the land for an Orlando to Tampa route, drawing $1.25 billion, that Missouri ($1.18 billion) and Wisconsin ($823 million) were part of a strong Midwest consortium (happier still: Chicago is the hub!), and that Charlotte, North Carolina’s ($620 million) local transit advocacy made it a strong contender.
By the way, even though the official data is out now, there were heavy clues yesterday on Twitter. Plugging in High Speed Rail would have given you most of the deets on Florida, told you the Wisconsin Governor was hinting he’d be a big winner, and that Chicago (i.e. St. Louis-Chicago) had something more than $1 billion. And, oh yeah, that the Ohio Governor was scheduling a press conference to talk about high speed rail.
In what has been a long night of bad news for Obama, what a relief to be able to give Ohio $400 million. Ohio!