Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Obama Seeks High Speed Rail Presidency - $8 Billion Stimulus Just Start

Today NPR reports Transportation Secretary (and former Illinois Congressman) Ray LaHood said, "high-speed rail could be a signature issue for Obama. 'I do think this is the transformational issue for this administration when it comes to transportation,' LaHood said. 'I think President Obama would like to be known as the high-speed rail president, and I think he can be.'"

In a regional context the report notes,

"Illinois, the home state of both Obama and LaHood, also will likely get a large chunk of federal funds. Chicago is already a major rail hub for the region and the nation. Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, an advocacy group, says his region could use the money to improve and speed existing service.

'What we're hoping the stimulus money gets used for is upgrading the existing route between Chicago to St. Louis, to get the trip down to three-and-a-half or four hours,' Harnish said. He also hopes to start the engineering work for 'a true high-speed line that would bring that service down to two hours.'

High-speed rail advocates also would like to see service between Chicago and Minneapolis."

Meanwhile the California High Speed Rail Blog quoted LaHood a few days earlier from the National Journal:

"Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today emphasized the administration's long-term commitment to expanding high-speed rail service in 'five or six regions' of the country, not just with the $8 billion provided in the economic stimulus package President Obama signed into law last week, but also 'in subsequent years a very substantial effort.' Meeting with reporters earlier today, LaHood said that for Obama building high-speed rail networks is, 'if not his No. 1 priority, certainly at the top of his list. What the president is saying with the $8 billion is this is the start to help begin high-speed rail projects.' He added that the administration 'is committed to finding the dollars to not only get them started but to finishing them in at least five parts of the country,' although he declined to elaborate on where these projects might ultimately be built."

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Blogger plaws said...

Nothing like the clock radio waking you up to Mr Harnish's voice in the morning. :-)

Seriously, it was a pretty good piece even if they did let Joey V pontificate about ripping out the NEC and replacing it with a faster version. Oy!

11:16 AM  

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