(NEW YORK) -- High speed rail projects in 15 states are being awarded more than $2 billion in grants from the federal government.
Transportation secretary Ray LaHood said Monday that the funding will help create “thousands of quality, middle class manufacturing construction jobs right away.”
"These are tremendous transportation projects and investments that America cannot do without," LaHood said, noting that not only will the projects help create jobs, but also relieve congestion in some of the country's most trafficked areas. The biggest chunk of the money -- nearly $800 million -- will go to improve rail service in the crowded northeast corridor.
"We simply cannot build enough highways and airports to accommodate this growth," LaHood said. "If we settle for the status quo, our children and grandchildren will fight paralyzing congestion, remain dependent on foreign oil, and suffer from an economy stuck in neutral."
LaHood said there were $10 billion in requests for the $2 billion of available money.
"Once built, it will spur economic development along its corridors, and over the long run it will restore America's economic competitiveness by complementing our highways and airways with world class railways."
Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio