Connecticut will have to compete for federal high-speed rail money

When Florida’s governor rejected $2.4 billion in high-speed rail funds earlier this month, Connecticut politicians made an aggressive pitch to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood for a slice of it. But they’re going to have to do more than ask.

The federal Department of Transportation announced Friday a new competitive bidding process for the $2.4 billion.

“States across the country have been banging down our door for the opportunity to receive additional high-speed rail dollars and to deliver all of its economic benefits to their citizens,” LaHood said in a statement.

DOT said a “merit-driven process” would be used to award the Florida money. “A project’s ability to reduce energy consumption, improve the efficiency of a region’s overall transportation network, and generate sustained economic activity along the corridor are among the selection criteria,” the DOT said.

Gov. Dannel Malloy said Connecticut would submit a strong application.

“This is a huge opportunity for Connecticut and I’ve directed the state DOT to aggressively pursue any and all avenues to get those funds to our state,” said Malloy. “I’m working to make sure Florida’s loss is Connecticut’s gain… If there’s federal money on the table, I want it.”