One of the centerpieces of U.S. President Barack Obama’s transportation initiative is high-speed rail, officials said.
The Washington Post reported that the White House is pushing for a bevy of rail projects, including a high-speed line between Minneapolis and Duluth, Minn.
Funding high-speed rail projects comes from $8 billion in economic stimulus money and $5 billion more over the next five years in the administration’s proposed transportation budget, the newspaper reported…
“We’re trying to get everything moving as fast as possible with the understanding that this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for funding,” said Steve Raukar, a commissioner in St. Louis County, Minn., chairman of the Northern Lights Passenger Rail Alliance, which is spearheading the drive for the $500 million Minnesota project.
The Times said nearly half of the $48 billion in stimulus money for transportation projects will go toward rail, buses and other non-highway projects.
“It sounds like a lot of money to Americans, but it’s really just a start,” James RePass, president of the National Corridors Initiative, a non-profit rail advocacy group, was quoted by the newspaper as saying. “We’re not going to wake up in a year and see a bullet train. But we are going to see much faster service for relatively little money.”
I would have been one of the first skeptics in line – except for our experience here in New Mexico over the past couple of years. Because Governor Bill Richardson succeeded in squeezing the funds from the state [bloody amazing!] and the Feds for high-speed rail north and south of Albuquerque.
It has exceeded everything he said it would be. A convenience for commuters – was most of the premise, since state government is up here in Santa Fe; but, most of the employees live down around around Albuqeurque and Rio Rancho. Then, tourists, including the intra-state flavor, realized that training up from Albuquerque to Santa Fe for a day’s shopping was a piece of cake.
The system, has had to add more trains to the schedule – barely setting aside Sundays for offline maintenance. Even the stodgy rural voters who opposed the system from the gitgo now want the line extended to Taos so they can get in on the action. Convenience and comfort really work.