The state has submitted applications for $564.8 million in federal stimulus funding for high-speed rail improvement projects across the state, Gov. David Paterson announced in a press release Monday.

The state has submitted applications for $564.8 million in federal stimulus funding for high-speed rail improvement projects across the state, Gov. David Paterson announced in a press release Monday.

Locally, the effort would devote $12.4 million to relieving congestion by improving track infrastructure and signals in the Mohawk Valley between Amsterdam and Rome. An additional $6.1 million would go towards improving crossings at 22 locations on the stretch of rail that runs from Erie County east to Schenectady County, officials said.

The state has been working to set the stage for the creation of a high-speed rail line between Buffalo and Albany that would stop in Utica. The rail would enable improved speeds throughout the corridor, reduce travel times and increase on-time service, officials have said.

U.S. Rep. Michael Arcuri, D-Utica, said the funds would help bring the region one step closer to creating more economic security in the area.

“Making high speed rail a reality in Upstate New York will increase jobs, improve passenger rail service, and allow business to operate more effectively and efficiently across the state,” Arcuri said. “This process is ongoing and I look forward to the success high-speed rail will bring to our communities in the near future.”

In March, the state released a 22-year strategic plan for the state’s rail system that said a high-speed rail could double the number of intercity rail passengers along New York's three major corridors: New York City to Albany, Albany to Niagara Falls and Albany to Montreal.

State Assemblywoman RoAnn Destito, D-Rome, called the high-speed rail “one of the most critical infrastructure improvements” that can be made to jumpstart the Upstate New York economy.

“It is very important at this time when there is economic stimulus money available from the federal government that we advance this project in order to have the ability to move passengers between Upstate communities and New York’s metropolitan region,” Destito said.

Observer-Dispatch