Tuesday, January 20, 2009

U.S. Shovel Ready Rail Projects Part I - Starting Within Four Months

As the Obama Administration considers spending hundreds of billions to stimulate the economy, a number of rail supporters, from associations (pdf) to think tank writers to state and congressional policy makers - not to mention the incoming White House, advocate making major investments in rail projects. In December 2008 Transportation For America collected data on transportation "projects ready to go in four months" and "ready to go in one year" - listing almost $20 billion worth of projects. While these projects include bus transit, here in this first post of a series on "Shovel Ready" rail projects, we're using Transportation For America's rail data, augmented with our links, to describe rail projects that could become part of the economic stimulus package. Below is a Google Map showing projects ready to go within four months - click the train icons, and on the upper left hand side of the map the four-way directional movement arrows and the '+' and '-' zoom to manipulate the map (for an easier, full-page view with a legend describing the projects see U.S. Regional Rail Projects Shovel Ready Within Four Months).

View Larger Map

Key Numbers

- Rail Projects Ready To Go Within Four Months
- Total Cost Of Rail Projects: $4,718,700,000
- Covering 17 Different Regions.

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Blogger John Bredin said...

IMHO, expanding the definition of shovel-ready projects to include those ready to begin construction in four months is only a first step.

The reason why there are so many shovel-ready road projects and relatively few shovel-ready transit and rail projects is because transit funding has been spartan and rail funding (except for the pittance given Amtrak) almost non-existent. With little prospect that a particular rail plan would be financed, there has been little incentive for States or Amtrak to work plans from a conceptual state into an implementation state, as planning itself costs money. It's a catch-22 worthy of Heller himself.

Based on the numbers in the original post, my suggested solution would be three tranches of infrastructure stimulus funding:

1) $4.8 billion for the four-month shovel-ready projects;

2) $20 billion for the ready-in-one-year projects;

3) Another $20 billion for other existing State or Amtrak plans, including a few million dollars up-front to work the plans through to a shovel-ready state.

6:56 PM  
Blogger Alon Levy said...

There are a couple of conspicuously missing projects, most notably Second Avenue Subway and the Subway to the Sea.

1:26 AM  
Blogger John Bredin said...

The Second Avenue Subway is not included because, mirabile dictu, it is funded and already in the first stages of construction!


Funding for the Second Avenue Subway was approved in November 2007.


The Subway to the Sea is not included because it's not even close to shovel-ready. It's in Metro's long-term plan, but that's a general and conceptual plan, not a construction plan.


The latter is precisely the problem I referred to in my post, and precisely why I suggested a third tranche for projects still in the planning stage, with some money up front to complete the plans.

10:03 AM  
Blogger Miss jane said...


4:01 AM  

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