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Posts tagged with "high-speed rail":
The governors of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin today pledged to work together to implement a high-speed rail network centered in Chicago. In recent months, Vice President Biden and Transportation Secretary LaHood have urged such coordinated action, as the region competes against other parts of the country, especially the East and West coasts, for federal funds. The first legs of the system would connect Chicago to St. Louis, Detroit/Pontiac, and Milwaukee/Madison. If all goes according to plan, those first segments could be open in three to five years.
This afternoon, President Obama and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood unveiled a map of possible high-speed rail corridors, with clusters on both coasts, in the North and the South. The plan contains few surprises, and is, in fact, merely a “Vision,” as the Recovery Act includes $8 billion in high-speed rail funding, a tiny faction of what this system would cost overall. Of that, governors are already jockeying for large chunks, including California, which is lobbying for half of the pie and a coalition of Midwestern governors is looking for $3.5 billion for a Chicago-based network. LaHood said that money for individual projects will be doled out at the end of the summer. With airports and highway capacities stretched to the limit, high-speed rail investment seems like a smart augmentation to the national transportation system. Time will tell if we have the will to build such a system. Perhaps the Detroit automakers could be pressed into service building new train cars. Wouldn’t that be the ultimate reversal of fortune?
Yesterday afternoon in Denver, Colorado, President Obama signed the stimulus bill into law. The process of doling out the spoils begins, as we wait, and hope, for the desired economic recovery. One piece of good news for urbanites and green transportation advocates, the bill includes $8 billion for high-speed rail, according to Politico. Additional funding is expected at $1 billion annually for the next five years, through the normal budgetary stream. This represents a major increase in high speed rail funding. Last year, President Bush authorized $1.5 billion in high speed rail funding through 2013. Reportedly, Transportation Secretary Lahood has 60 days to plan how and where the funds will be spent. The rail funding is a special priority for President Obama, according to Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel. “I put it in there for the president,” Emanuel told Politico. “The president wanted to have a signature issue in the bill, his commitment for the future.” The rail-heavy Northeast and the planned California high-speed corridor seem like obvious recipients. Doubtless some in Chicago, and the down state Illinois district Lahood previously represented, will push for a Midwest hub and spoke-shaped system centered in Chicago. While architects do not typically design rail corridors, they do design stations, like this Calatrava-designed TGV station in Lyon, and transit oriented developments. Wouldn't it be nice to buy your Acela tickets in surroundings like this? UPDATE: The Huffington Post has a link to a 2002 Federal Railroad Administration map showing possible high-speed corridors. Which lines will make the cut?