In addition to the $27 million for solar and $50.5 million for offshore wind Obama just announced, Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood also let us know yesterday that another $53 billion is being proposed for high-speed rail. This is in addition to the $8 billion awarded at the beginning of last year and the $2.5 billion awarded since then. This money would be spread out over the next six years for projects across the country. The goal is to give 80% of the U.S. population access to high-speed rail in the next 25 years (no, I don’t think that figure includes legal residents living in Europe,.. like me).
For those all-too-eager to complain about Obama subsidizing this form of transportation of transportation (and completely unaware of the huge magnitude of road subsidies the federal government supplies), I like this line from the White House’s press release: “The proposal will place high-speed rail on equal footing with other surface transportation programs and revitalize America’s domestic rail manufacturing industry.”
Here’s a little more on the details of the investment:
In order to achieve a truly national system, these investments will focus on developing or improving three types of interconnected corridors:
- Core Express: These corridors will form the backbone of the national high-speed rail system, with electrified trains traveling on dedicated tracks at speeds of 125-250 mph or higher.
- Regional: Crucial regional corridors with train speeds of 90-125 mph will see increases in trips and reductions in travel times, laying the foundation for future high-speed service.
- Emerging: Trains traveling at up to 90 mph will provide travelers in emerging rail corridors with access to the larger national high-speed and intercity passenger rail network.
This system will allow the Department – in partnership with states, freight rail, and private companies – to identify corridors for the construction of world-class high-speed rail, while raising speeds on existing rail lines and providing crucial planning and resources to communities who want to join the national high-speed rail network.
While the investment is clearly a good one from a long-term perspective and will also create a ton of new jobs, Christopher DeMorro of our sister site Gas2.org makes a good political point: “If Obama wants to get reelected though, he’s going to have to get these projects going sooner rather than later and convince elder Americans that trains are the future…again.”
And for a little historical perspective and fun, the INFRASTRUCTURIST has a nice piece on how the development national high-speed rail network could parallel the development of our national interstate system. Hopefully the Republican party doesn’t stall a national high-speed rail network for as long.
1. High-Speed Rail Opposition and Support
2. U.S. Secretary of Transportation Focusing on High-Speed Rail in Florida
3. China Wants to Connect its High-Speed Rail to Europe (Largest Infrastructure Project in History)
Photo Credit: White House
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