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O’Malley lobbies for more rail funding

Gov. Martin O’Malley is hoping Florida’s loss may be Maryland’s gain.

The Sunshine State governor, Rick Scott, announced this week Florida would return $2.4 billion in federal rail funding from the economic stimulus package. On Friday, O’Malley assured Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that should those funds find their way to Maryland, they would be appreciated.

“I believe transportation infrastructure projects including passenger rail offer a path to economic recovery and a stronger, more competitive future,” O’Malley wrote to LaHood.

The funding doesn’t appear destined for the Red and Purple lines, the most prominent of the state’s unfunded transit projects. The state is looking for about $3.5 billion to fund the light rail lines in Baltimore and suburban Washington.

O’Malley said the High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail funds could be used on the replacement of the Baltimore and Potomac Tunnel, the addition of track near the BWI MARC station, replacing bridges and upgrading capacity on freight lines.

“Due to Amtrak’s ownership of the majority of the infrastructure on the [Northeast Corridor], the federal responsibility for these improvements is more apparent here than in any other passenger rail corridor in the nation,” O’Malley wrote. “We urge you to reflect that obligation in future federal investment where US DOT has discretion in awarding funding.”