Trains For America

More choices for better transportation

A Think Piece from Orphan Road: The California Prcedent

It looks like NYT has a major piece in infrastructure and it has provoked some serious thinking. Some of that can be found on Orphan Road, an excellent Seattle blog. Since California is in a commanding position to get a major slice of the first federal money for HSR, are there risks?

Let’s see.

  • California is currently sending out IOUs instead of checks
  • everything is ultimately decided by popular initiative (Yes, I know. Just hang on.)
  • no tax sentiment is deeply rooted in local culture
  • geographic distances
  • NIMBY and other wacko environmentalist opposition

OK, you get the picture.

UPDATE: California HSR project may bypass San Francisco. This AP story highlights the latest objections and another possible reason to avoid spending federal dollars in the ever-changing political quicksands of of the Golden State.

There are numerous “up” sides of the discussion as well.

  • extreme highway congestion
  • wel educated populace
  • large population base essential for sufficient passenger volume
  • vibrant transit systems at LA and in the Bay area
  • vibrant business communities in destination cities

I think Chicago-St. Louis is the best first choice, but that has some risk/reward considerations as well. Anyway, for your holiday weekend, here is the conversation starter. I await your analysis.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Transportatio Policy, United States High Speed Rail

UPDATED: Las Vegas maglev subject of deepening conflict

There is $45 million in federal money set aside for the maglev that is proposed to connect Los Angeles with Las Vegas. (Why is it “Los” and “Las?”) Anyway, Nevada Senator Harry Reid is ready to scuttle the federal money and direct it to a European-style corridor that would parallell I-15, This is going to get very messy and it will in no way assist the cause of developing high speed rial in North America.

The Los Angeles Times has a report.

Reid, who no longer supports the maglev project, said during an event to publicize the rail corridor that he would try to scuttle $45 million in federal funds earmarked for the proposal. The maglev project and a conventional rail line proposed by a private venture are trying to develop separate high speed passenger trains that would parallel oft-congested Interstate 15. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced Thursday that a swath of land along much of I-15 has been declared a federal high-speed rail corridor — one of 11 such zones in the U.S. Projects proposed in those corridors are eligible for federal assistance, grants and loans.

UPDATE: Associated Press gives some clarity and additional details on this story.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced Thursday that the route is now considered part of the federally designated California high-speed rail corridor.

Filed under: Passenger Rail Politics, United States High Speed Rail

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July 2009