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No Train From Baton Rouge to Bourbon Street

Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (AP Photo/Bill Haber, File)Today’s roundup of stimulus coverage:

The race has begun for high-speed rail dollars. States applied for billions of dollars in stimulus funding for rail projects Monday, with California alone seeking $1.1 billion in 42 separate applications, reports The Wall Street Journal. The Recovery Act offers $8 billion in funding for passenger rail projects, only some of which is likely to be spent on high-speed rail; the rest will likely go toward improving the existing rail network. (See the Journal’s interactive map of high-speed rail corridors.)

However, at least one state will not be applying for stimulus money for high-speed rail, reports The Times-Picayune of New Orleans. In February, Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal ridiculed the stimulus plan for including, as he put it, “$8 billion for high-speed rail projects, such as a ‘magnetic levitation’ line from Las Vegas to Disneyland.” But reports surfaced last week that the Louisiana Department of Transportation was considering applying for stimulus money for a new rail line between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, eliciting mockery. The state transportation chief quickly wrote to the federal transportation secretary to say that his agency was not applying for stimulus funds for high-speed rail.

The New York state comptroller has rejected his first stimulus contract, a $7 million job to paint 61 bridges along Interstate 84, according to spokeswoman Jennifer Freeman and the Daily News. Steed General Contractors, which got the contract from the state’s Transportation Department, may be a front company for a contractor that is barred from getting state work until October 2012, the News reports. (Read the comptroller’s letter to the state DOT (PDF).)

A school district in Connecticut has hired a watchdog to make sure stimulus dollars are spent properly, the New Haven Register reports. The watchdog and the school district’s superintendent, who have the same last name, are not related, according to the paper. But in the comments section, readers raise questions about whether the new hire may be related to another city official.

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