He's not officially governor yet, but it appears Andrew Cuomo is already hard at work for Western New York. On Friday, just three days after his election day victory, Cuomo sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking that if proposed high-speed rail projects in Ohio and Wisconsin are ended as promised by their recently elected governors, New York would gladly make use of the $1.26 billion in funding that would be forfeited by their cancellations.
Although he won the governorship by the one of the widest margins in history, his opponent Carl Paladino dominated the Western New York vote. This early move shows some dedication to upstate New York as well as making good on campaign promises. During his campaign, Cuomo made high-speed rail an important part of his environmental agenda and promised that he would "ensure that New York has done the work necessary to put itself in a position to win more critical federal grants to upgrade our rail system at reasonable cost to enable a reliable service that averages 100 miles per hour between New York City and Albany, Albany and Buffalo, and points in between."
His November 5th letter read as follows:
Hon. Ray LaHood
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave., SE
Washington, DC 20590
Dear Secretary LaHood:
High speed rail could be transformative for New York--with the potential to revitalize Upstate New York's economy with construction jobs now and permanent jobs created by the new high speed rail links to New York City, Toronto and Montreal in the future. That is why I made high speed rail a priority during my campaign, and that is why it will continue to be a top priority for me as Governor.
To date, New York has received only a small fraction of federal money for high speed rail, but we want to make it a success now, and my Administration will aggressively pursue all funding opportunities to make high speed rail a reality. Recent reports have stated that incoming Administrations in other states, particularly Ohio and Wisconsin, are seeking to cancel their high speed rail projects and the hundreds of millions of dollars in federal aid associated with those projects. Therefore, I would ask you to consider redirecting the federal funding to New York because the project is a top priority.
High speed rail could be the 21st Century Erie Canal for New York State and help rebuild Upstate New York's economy. Now is the moment to build. Thank you for the consideration and if you have any questions, please do not hesitate and call.
Andrew M. Cuomo