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Public Transportation Mon May 17 2010

The Collapse of the High Speed Rail Promise?

Advocates of publicly-owned transit were over the moon with the announcement by the Obama administration that there would be serious investment in high-speed rail as part of the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. Communities likely to be served by the high speed rail had tentatively begun community information efforts. Transit advocates like the Metropolitan Planning Council (MPC) have begun undertaking serious study of the benefits of the program as planned.

Unfortunately, there may not be much of a future to the plan. The Infrastructurist asks, "Could high-speed rail stall completely in the U.S.?" And the answer seems to be yes:

Following the much-ballyhooed $8 billion that the government allotted to states as part of the stimulus bill, it doesn't look like there's much more federal money after that. In 2010, Congress authorized $2.5 billion for HSR projects -- and for 2011, it's a mere $1 billion. And given the shambles condition of most states' budgets, it's highly unlikely that state governments will be able to write big checks to HSR projects in the next 2 to 5 years.


Stroganovsky / May 17, 2010 11:20 AM

Just another Obamanable bait-and-switch, or is it just bait-and-leave-you-in-the-ditch?

Dan Johnson-Weinberger / May 17, 2010 1:32 PM

The 2011 budget hasn't passed yet, so the $1 billion figure is just a starting point. No one has done more than President Obama to transform high speed rail policy in the US with his personal intervention in the last day of the negotiations over the Recovery Act to insert $8 billion for high speed rail. Illinois allocated a ground-breaking $850 million in its capital program to railroad infrastructure, thanks to Governor Quinn's leadership. Now Congress can continue to embrace high speed rail by spending $4 billion in 2011, and you can help by telling Congress to do so at . There is a bright future for high speed rail, especially if Congress continues to invest. And keep in mind: $2.5 billion in FY2010 is a transformative increase over FY2009 of ...$90 million. That's something like a 25-fold increase in one year, not to mention the incredible $8 billion in the Recovery Act. There has been major change in high speed rail policy. Of course, I am a paid shill of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association ( as their lobbyist, for full disclosure on the comment boards. So if you want to see Congress keep up the incredible momentum for high speed rail, tell them to spend the money! Four

stanley kowalski / May 17, 2010 11:48 PM

Let's get serious. We spend a whopping 3% of the federal budget on transportation infrastructure.

Jon Kyl's estate tax cut for next year, (over 2009 levels with its $7 million deductible) which will probably pass, will cost $60 billion over ten years. That's enough for a modest HSR program all by itself. (four lines outside of Cal, or Cal plus one).

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