High Speed Ahead

Thursday, September 17, 2009
Someday, high-speed rail will criss-cross the map. (Courtesy America 2050)

Someday, high-speed rail could criss-cross the map. (Courtesy America 2050)

We’ve been paying an awful lot of attention to high-speed rail of late. That’s partly because it’s a pet project of the president, as well as the various regions we cover. Well, bids were due last month for the $8 billion to be doled out in stimulus funds for high-speed rail development (after all, that kinda money isn’t going to go very far toward building any one system, let alone the dozen or so needed to begin supplanting planes or cars), and while the money will likely get split up amongst different states and localities so as not to anger any constituency, the infrastructure-oriented, RPA-affiliated group America 2050 released a report today recommending where best to spend that money, and we’ve got bad news for our colleagues on the West Coast and Great Lakes—it should go right here in the Northeast Corridor. (It should be noted the RPA, like AN is headquartered here in New York, so maybe it’s just bias at play.)

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3 Responses to “High Speed Ahead”

  1. Petra Todorovich says:

    Thanks for your coverage of the report. But, as you can see in the map above, we recommend three regions of the country (see corridors in red) for investment in the first phase of high-speed rail funding: the Northeast, the Midwest, and California. They all scored highly in our index that rated 27,000 possible city pairs in the United States for potential ridership demand.

    If initial high-speed rail investments are seen as a success by the public, this will build support for continued federal funding and building out a truly national network.

  2. Matt Chaban says:


    Point taken, but Northeast cities took seven of the top 10 spots in your rankings, including the top four, so if not outright winners, the numbers are at least in our favor. And as you must know, it would be unlikely all three systems you recommend come online at once, and that instead one gets the green light as a pilot. Wish that weren’t the case, but it would be surprising to see things happen otherwise.

  3. Jason says:

    Having just moved from SF to LA, I would be happy to agree that potential ride-shares, distances between population centers, etc. probably do make the DC-Boston corridor the area where the high-speed rail stimulus would be most effectively spent. However, California has spent the last decade, and 10s of millions of dollars performing the necessary EIRs, selecting routes, etc (not to mention an ballot proposition ratifying the proposal and allowing an $8 Biilion bond issue). As Petra points out, California has the ridership numbers, and we’ve got significant portions that are practically shovel ready. SF and and Anaheim have preliminary station designs. The Northeast corridor absolutely should get started on a high-speed rail plan now, but it will have to start with an EIR and planning docs, which take years, and require millions in consulting fees, not billions of construction dollars.

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