Posts Tagged: Department of Transportation

High-speed regional trains zoom into California

Several new trains capable of considerably higher speed should begin plying the rails in California in about four years time, thanks to an infusion of federal cash, reports Tim Sheehan of The Fresno Bee.

California received 68 million dollars from the federal government to buy 15 new American passenger cars and four new U.S.-made locomotives for the state’s three regional rail routes. The funding is a portion of the $336 million worth of Recovery Act funding — economic stimulus money — awarded as federal matching funds to California and outright grants to Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, and Missouri. (more…)

Los Angeles: a beacon of hope amid high-speed rail fog?

Headwinds  are building against California’s planned high-speed rail system, with congressional opponents attempting to kill funding, and new reports generating ever more negative rhetoric. That’s the  bottom line in Carolyn Lochhead’s piece in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Meanwhile, though significant cuts to transportation funding — both for road construction and maintenance as well as mass-transit are likely in the coming transportation bill, Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa has introduced an innovative financing scheme aimed at speeding up transit construction.  Villaraigosa’s initiativemay become a nationwide program, according to Rick Orlov of the Torrance Daily Breeze.

Criticisms at the policy end of high-speed rail are hardly new. Here’s a standard sample: (more…)

Dangerous charters: Even if you’re on the bus, you’re not really on the bus

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which is part of the U.S. Dept. of Transportation, has shut down the Michigan-based Haines Company motor coach, because it held passengers in the cargo department. An inspection last month by the Ohio State Highway Patrol found six passengers riding in the luggage compartment with unsecured luggage. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reports that DOT has started to crack down on some of the nation’s sketchier charter bus companies.

Clout city, baby!

U.S. Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood attended Rahm Emanuel’s inauguration as Chicago mayor yesterday — and LaHood sounds eager to work with the new mayor. Tim Jones and John McCormick of Business Week report:

Soon after his swearing-in, [Emanuel’s] transportation advisers will go to Washington to discuss high-speed rail and other projects with LaHood’s staff, the transportation secretary said. “Rahm is going to have some very, very strong and significant partners in this administration because he wants to get things done,” LaHood said.

Why does LaHood want to help Emanuel? (more…)

Small victories for big rail corridors

Transportation Sec. Ray LaHood announced yesterday that the U.S. Dept. of Transportation will give Michigan a $196 million grant toward the construction of a rail corridor between Detroit and Chicago. The Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch points out that the money comes a weeks after DOT gave Illinois $186 million toward a Chicago to St. Louis corridor. Construction of the Chicago to St. Louis high-speed rail corridor — the trains will go up to 110 mph — is already underway.

But hold your applause, mass transit advocates. This money is coming from $2.4 billion that Florida relinquished when new Gov. Rick Scott killed a high-speed rail line between Orlando and Tampa. Much of this money was cut in the last-minute 2011 budget agreement, and will not be fully reallocated to states like Illinois and Michigan that want the mass transit cash.

Hypothetically faster than a speeding bullet

The Midwest High Speed Rail Association has an ambitious vision of a 220-mph bullet train that would connect major Midwest cities, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Jon Hilkevitch. But 2011 has already been a terrible year for the politics and federal funding of high-speed rail. Do recent setbacks make a bullet train politically unrealistic?

Working with the Siemens Corporation, the non-profit rail association looked at a number of possibilities for a Midwest bullet train and concluded that the 220-mph train would be the most expensive to build but yield the greatest return investment. (more…)

Lost highway

Cezary Podkul and Gregory Korte of USA Today report on “orphaned” earmarks in the U.S. Department of Transportation budget — pricey infrastructure projects that have never got off the ground. (more…)

Illinois HSR project now in motion

The Illinois Department of Transportation has negotiated an agreement with Amtrak and Union Pacific Railroad that will let the state release $1.1 billion in federal grants for a high-speed rail line from Chicago to St. Louis. (more…)

Construction of high-speed rail would mean construction of high-speed rail

Building a high-speed rail line means spending money and it also means creating jobs. But it also means, um, the construction of a high-speed rail line, a point so obvious that it seems lost in the heated debate over an aborted Milwaukee-to-Madison train line. (more…)

Stalled on the runway

Last week, the U.S. Dept. of Transportation provided Chicago $3.4 million to help build an air traffic control tower as part O’Hare international airport expansion. The project, though, is plagued with insufficient funds and no realistic completion date, reports the Chicago Tribune’s Robert McCoppin. McCoppin focuses on the stalled construction of a western terminal. “The fate of the terminal is unclear,” he writes. “Its uncertain status has some critics questioning whether the project’s promised economic boost justified destruction of hundreds of homes and businesses, as well as increased noise and pollution in the area.”

I think that one problem with the O’Hare expansion project has been the role of federal and state government as enabler to local government. (more…)