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High Speed Rail: Where Is the Stimulus Money Going?


By Art Allen, Communications Assistant

You may have heard about the approximately $8 billion in the federal stimulus package dedicated exclusively for high speed rail. What you may not know is that only ten corridors are eligible for stimulus funding.

The 10 corridors are:

  • California: San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego
  • Pacific Northwest: Eugene, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver, B.C.
  • South Central: Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Little Rock
  • Gulf Coast Corridor: Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Birmingham, Atlanta
  • Chicago Hub Network: Chicago, Milwaukee, Minneapolis-St. Paul, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville
  • Florida: Orlando, Tampa, Miami
  • Southeast: Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Macon, Columbia, Savannah, Jacksonville
  • Keystone: Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh
  • Empire: New York, Albany, Buffalo
  • Northern New England: Boston, Montreal, Portland, Springfield, New Haven, Albany

Here's a map:



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But that is only the first big pile of funding from the stimulus. the Obama admin. is committed to a long term plan that includes ongoing funding. And a big piece of it is funding plans that tie in livable communities. The approach is really exciting.

I LOVE this idea and hope it carries though, but I don't understand why there are so many routes, yet none of them connect to each other. And a lot of them could. The only one that connects is on the east cost. What happens when they don't connect? Do you have to switch trains?

In addition to Mr. Lewis's comment, the Obama budget has appropriated $1 billion per annum for high-speed rail, and the money will be doled out in segments. First up is:

every approach into Chicago (Illinois FasTracks) Milwaukee-Madison, Kalamazoo-Detroit, Joliet-St. Louis, Tampa-Orlando, Los-Angeles-San Francisco.

I have a hunch that the administration will reward the Republican Ladies of Maine for their support and upgrade the Northern New England route from Portland to Boston, and that Arlen Spector's Keystone route, which has already had some upgrades and is historically a high-speed route.

$13 billion is enough to buy equipment and upgrade some stations. It's a significant down payment and a commitment, but what will really help is a solid transportation bill, that like the Interstate Highway & Defense Act of 1956, uses a 90/10 Federal to Local match.

In response to Mr. Spargo regarding transfers.

Initially, high-speed rail in our country will be very regional, like it is in Western Europe. Few people take a train from Rome to Paris, but they will places in between.

Most of these corridors currently have some sort of regular Amtrak service. So what we'll have is an increase in frequency and speed. If you're going from Chicago to New York, you'll be on a high-speed train to Cleveland on mostly dedicated right-of-way, and then from Cleveland to Buffalo, the trains will use the existing tracks at regular speeds, and from Buffalo to New York at high-speeds.

High-Speed Rail is not going to compete with the cross-country air market, but will take a substantial share of intra-regional travel. We will continue flying to the coasts, but if it's not too expensive, we'll take to the train to Chicago, every time.

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