The Federal Railroad Administration announced funding of $2.482 billion in high-speed and intercity passenger rail grants yesterday. Fifty-four projects in 23 states and several multi-state regions will be supported via the new grants. These are in addition to the $8 billion in railroad projects already approved under the Recovery Act.

“State departments of transportation are leading the way in developing the nation’s 11 corridors for high-speed and intercity passenger service – projects that will ultimately reduce congestion on our highways, offer new choices and options for travelers, and help reduce our dependence on foreign oil in an environmentally friendly manner,” said John Horsley, executive director of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation.

“These grants will make it possible for states to continue building the infrastructure that will bring high-speed and intercity passenger rail to more areas of the country, and to bring it sooner.,” he added.

According to Horsley, many states are already at work on expanding or improving their rail lines using the $8 billion awarded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act earlier this year.

In Florida, for example, contractors are testing soils and surveying property along I-4 in anticipation of the Tampa-to-Orlando high-speed rail line expected by 2015. Illinois is upgrading 39 miles of Union Pacific railroad track for high-speed service between Alton and Lincoln. And Maine is replacing 30 miles of track between Portland and Brunswick in anticipation of a Boston-to-Brunswick line with new stations in Freeport and New Brunswick.