The Obama administration on Thursday rescinded $1.195 billion intended to fund the development of high-speed rail in Ohio and Wisconsin and said it will redirect the funds to “other states eager to develop high-speed rail corridors” in the United States. “I am pleased that so many other states are enthusiastic about the additional support they are receiving to help bring America’s high-speed rail network to life,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a statement. Wisconsin and Ohio both recently elected Republican governors who criticized the federal government for wasteful spending and the high-speed rail program for distracting their states from more pressing infrastructure needs. The Obama administration said Wisconsin had suspended work on its existing high-speed rail agreement.
Last month, Wisconsin Governor-elect Scott Walker asked if his state could apply the money intended for a Milwaukee and Madison train line to road construction instead. The $814 billion federal stimulus plan passed last year included $8 billion to begin building up a network of “bullet trains” across a country that has long relied on interstate highways for passenger travel. Wisconsin and Ohio were set to receive $810 million and $400 million, respectively, for developing rail routes. Now the money will be given to 14 other states with California, which is the farthest along in its high-speed rail plans, receiving the most. The Transportation Department said California will receive up to $624 million, and Florida will receive the next largest sum, up to $342.3 million. Wisconsin will still receive up to $2 million for another Midwest rail project. “Today is one of the saddest days during my four years as governor because I see jobs leaving Ohio, I see resources leaving Ohio, I see vital infrastructure leaving Ohio,” Strickland, a Democrat, said in a statement.