Posts Tagged: high speed rail

High speed rail funding leaves one coast for the other

A major windfall in federal funding offered to Florida for a new high speed rail effort, just might end up in America’s other sand-and-sun tourist destination — California.

Arguing that local matching funds and future operating and maintenance costs would be an albatross around Floridians’ necks, Florida’s Republican leadership recently rejected the $2.43 billion Washington offered for that state’s long planned fast train project. Now, according to Rich Connell of the Los Angeles Times, the race is on to get that money and California is hoping for a healthy slice, if not the whole pie. (more…)

Illinois: Hey, we’ll take Florida’s train money

As other states reject federal high-speed rail money, Illinois is asking for more. Gov. Pat Quinn, a Democrat, announced yesterday that the U.S. Dept. of Transportation will provide $685 million to begin construction April 5 on a high-speed rail track between Springfield and Joliet. Overall, the state is supposed to get $1.2 billion to build a track between Chicago and St. Louis — but Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business points out that Illinois could get more federal cash. (more…)

Off the rails

Departing Chicago Mayor Richard Daley wants Chinese investors to fund a high-speed train transporting O’Hare Airport passengers to downtown Chicago, reports Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times. The plan is classic Daley: a legacy project that will boost Chicago’s international image as more mundane city problems remain unaddressed. But private investors might be the future for high-speed rail as the Obama administration has faced rejection from Republican governors. (more…)

With high-speed rail, competing political visions play out in real time

With states’ choices on high-speed rail, there will be winners and losers.  Some governors have said no to the expense of high-speed rail in spite of federal funding.  Others are taking a chance on building new transportation infrastructure to serve the public but face the risk of ridicule if the trains end up underused.   The principle of public spending is at stake, as is the ability of infrastructure to change a region’s investment climate and improve the standard of living.

As Ashley Halsey III writes in the Washington Post, states who have decided to build high-speed rail may now have more money to make it happen.  Ohio, Wisconsin, and Florida have all backed out of previous commitments to build high-speed rail lines, leaving $2.4 billion that states like Illinois, California, and Colorado can compete for.

Saddling up the Iron Horse in California

In what may be another windfall for California’s high speed rail project, Florida officials, led by that state’s governor yesterday rejected almost $2.5 billion in federal matching funds for a high speed rail link connecting Orlando and Tampa.

As Michael Doyle reports in The Sacramento Bee, that money could conceivably find its way into California’s coffers. Several months ago, after newly elected republican governors in Ohio and Wisconsin rejected federal money for high speed rail projects in their states, federal officials redirected the money to California. (more…)

Keep high-speed rail moving

If the Obama administration pushes forward with all the lines that states have agreed to fund, and if other governors — Democrat or Republican — stay the course and insist on modern rail infrastructure in their regions, states like Wisconsin, Ohio, and now Florida will live to regret their decisions rejecting these projects, and their residents will, sooner or later, demand that they get the same services that exist around the country.  (In Wisconsin, voters would have had to commit all of two cents per year per person to get their line built).  All this will happen if there are enough states and enough politicians in Washington willing to stand up for smart growth on a national scale (as well as on the local one).  And funds that were slated for states saying no to high-speed rail must be used for those states willing to move forward.

High-speed rail*

In December, the Illinois Dept. of Transportation and Union Pacific Railroad reached an agreement on high-speed rail service between Chicago and St. Louis, triggering the release of $1.1 billion in U.S. Dept. of Transportation money. But Bruce Rushton of the State Journal-Register reports that the rail service might not always be high-speed: Union Pacific will incur no penalties if freight trains on the Chicago to St. Louis rail line interfere with passenger service. Moreover, Union Pacific “expects to dramatically increase the number of freight trains on the line” because of a new freight terminal in Joliet, Illinois.

High-speed rail sounds futuristic, but this news reinforces that, unless some decisions are made to prioritize passenger routes, it won’t be too dramatic a change. (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…)

Stop that train, I wanna get on

Sharp objections to high speed rail in Wisconsin and Ohio (which Ned Hodgman also looked at today) are paying dividends for California and ten other states.

The newly elected Republican governors in the two Midwestern states, who declined federal seed money to begin developing a Chicago-based fast train network reaching from Cleveland to Minneapolis and Kansas City, just inadvertently gave a $1.2 billion gift to less recalcitrant states, reports Dan Weikel of the Los Angeles Times.

The Federal Railroad Administration announced that it was pulling stimulus funding from Ohio and Wisconsin and rather than allowing the governors to repurpose the funding, will re-allocate it to states where high speed rail is wanted. (more…)