Thursday, February 19, 2009

Is America Getting Real About High-Speed Rail?

The United States may at long last be getting serious about high-speed rail. According to Reuters, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said his agency is preparing for President Obama a report on developing high-speed rail in six corridors that include cost and time estimates.

"This is going to be President Obama's, I believe, top transportation priority," LaHood told reporters. "They asked us to give them as much information as we could."

According to the article, LaHood indicated the President is contemplating an investment beyond the $8 billion included in the economic stimulus legislation signed earlier this week. reported that the President was a prime mover behind that appropriation, which was added to the legislation in final negotiations.

This would represent a 180 degree turnabout in government thinking on intercitty rail. Former President George W. Bush routinely submitted budget with appropriations well below the levels requested by the railroad. In some years, his budget provided nothing for Amtrak.

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