The National Corridors Initiative, Inc.
Destination:Freedom

A Weekly North American Transportation Update

For transportation advocates and professionals, journalists,
and elected or appointed officials at all levels of government

Publisher: James P. RePass      E-Zine Editor: Molly McKay
Foreign Editor: David Beale      Webmaster: Dennis Kirkpatrick

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March 9, 2009
Vol. 10 No. 11

Copyright © 2009
NCI Inc., All Rights Reserved
Our 10th Year

Home Page: www.nationalcorridors.org

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IN THIS EDITION...   In This Edition...

  Regional Conference…
UNO Conference, New Orleans - March 26, 2009
  News Items…
Double-Tracking At Last On Line For Empire Corridor Bottleneck
  Funding Lines…
Massachusetts Businesses Push For 25 Cent Per Gallon Gas Tax Increase
Stimulus Funds For California High Speed Rail
California Proposition 1A (2008)
Stimulus Money To Fund Hudson-Bergen Light Rail,
   New Hudson Tunnel
 
  Selected Rail Stocks…
  Opinion…
It’s Time, Finally, For Windsor-Quebec City High-Speed Rail Link
  Guest Column…
How The North-South Rail Link In Boston Fills A Key Gap
   In The Northeast Corridor
  Editorial…
Obama’s On The Right Track With Rail Spending
  Publication Notes …


Setting A Vision for Sustainable Development:
The Louisiana Transportation Renaissance

The UNO Conference
March 26, 2009 at New Orleans
Click Here for Details and To Register

NEWS OF THE WEEK... News Items...

Obama Stimulus Program Is Catalyst

 

Double-Tracking At Last On Line
For Empire Corridor Bottleneck

From Internet Sources, The FRA, And By DF Staff

(ALBANY) --- After more than a decade of declining passenger and freight rail on-time performance caused by capacity problems between Albany and Schenectady, and as a direct result of the Obama Stimulus Program, the Capital District Regional Planning Committee (Albany, NY) is poised to commit the funds to end the bottleneck.

Eighteen miles single-track rail between Albany and Schenectady, the result of decades of track-removal programs by freight railroads seeking to cut maintenance costs and/or sell rail as scrap, may finally be double-tracked in 2009, if the expected approval by the Capital District Regional Planning Committee later this month is backed by funding, news sources reported.

New York’s Department of Transportation would provide $60 million for the projected $70 million project, which could fill the gap using federal stimulus money. Numerous previous efforts by NYDOT and Amtrak, the segment’s primary user, to double-track the stretch for passenger rail purposes have stalled.

“The project for installing a second main railroad track between Albany and Schenectady was previously on the Transportation Improvement Program as part of the Amtrak, DOT Rail Initiative. It was subsequently removed from the TIP. It is being brought back now and funded with discretionary Railroad Stimulus funds according to the Regional Planning Committee’s agenda item.

Here is the Federal Railroad Administration description of the Empire Corridor:

Major cities: New York City, Albany, Buffalo

SegmentMileageTop Speed (goal)Travel Time (goal)
New York, Albany to Buffalo439125 mphn/a hr

Source: FRA     

Accomplishments and Status:

Although only recently officially designated as “high-speed” under TEA-21, New York’s Empire Corridor has a heritage of high-speed operation that dates back to the 19th Century. The State of New York has funded major improvements since the 1980s between New York City and Albany, sustaining operations at 100 mph or more for almost 20 years. 

[Note: an attempt to re-establish high speed turbo service ended in 2007, when both Amtrak and New York State agreed to end reconstruction of some problematic (high fuel consumption, other issues) Rohr French turbotrains, and upgrade the track]

The FRA and the Federal Highway Administration jointly manage the Section 1103(c) grade crossing hazard elimination program in designated high-speed corridors. $3.244 million has been invested in reducing grade crossing hazards in the Empire Corridor since the program’s beginning in 1993. Details on the grade crossing inventory in this corridor can be found at http://www.fra.dot.gov/downloads/RRDev/grade_crossing_inv_empire.pdf.

Outlook:

New York State and Amtrak together planned to re-equip and incrementally improve the 160-mile New York to Schenectady line for up to 125 mph service, and to upgrade the line west of Schenectady to Buffalo/Niagara Falls.  The State and Amtrak developed a $200 million plan ($140 million for plant improvements; $60 million for equipment rebuilding) to attain reduced travel times in the corridor.  New York City to Albany would be targeted at two hours; Albany-Buffalo in 6 1/2 hours.  However, according to Amtrak, its commitment to the corridor upgrade plan is contingent on adequate federal funding of Amtrak’s capital program - which is not being provided - and accordingly all activities to implement the plan are presently deferred. 

FRA, New York State, and the Moynihan Station Development Corporation are working to develop improved passenger station facilities in Manhattan and relieve overloading in Penn Station by converting the adjacent James A. Farley Post Office Building into an intercity transportation terminal.  Penn Station in New York City is Amtrak’s busiest nationwide, serving over 8.5 million passengers yearly. Approximately 125 Amtrak trains daily serve Penn Station including Amtrak’s Empire and Northeast Corridor operations.

The new Albany/Rensselaer station opened and handled about 634,000 riders in FY 2003.  Station rehabilitation work is now complete in Utica and Rome and additional economic renovations are underway while studies to upgrade the stations in Buffalo and Rochester are ongoing.

New York State is building three grade separations on the Albany to Schenectady line that are expected to cost a total of $18 million and will significantly improve travel times and safety. 

A major study of the Hudson Line between New York City and Albany was recently undertaken to determine projected traffic levels and the cost of upgrades.   The State is in active discussions with Metro North, CSX and others on this work.  CSX has identified possible freight traffic growth on the line that will have to be accommodated along with potential increases in the numbers and the operating speeds of intercity and commuter passenger trains. 

For more information go to: http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/653


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FUNDING LINES... Funding Lines...  

Going Beyond Governor’s 19 Cent Boost

 

Massachusetts Businesses Push For
25 Cent Per Gallon Gas Tax Increase

By DF Staff And From The Boston Globe
By Noah Bierman, Globe Staff | March 3, 2009

BOSTON --- They might like to call it Tax-achusetts, but a group of key Massachusetts businessmen Massachusetts business groups has backed a 25-cent gas tax increase, going 6 cents per gallon beyond what Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has proposed.

The Boston Globe’s Noah Bierman reported the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, A Better City, and NAIOP Massachusetts, a commercial real estate development association all joined forces at a news conference to support the 25-ent boost, “saying that the state needs to move even faster to fix its ailing network of roads and bridges to encourage a strong business climate.”

The Globe said that the business leaders compared the current push for a transportation overhaul to the effort that led to the state’s new comprehensive healthcare law, saying that the costs to motorists and businesses “are worth it to fix chronic money shortages that have plagued the system for more than a generation.”

A 25-cent increase would generate about $650 million a year in new tax revenues for the state.

“The political stakes are high, but the leadership here is necessary,” said Paul Guzzi, president and CEO of the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce.

Guzzi was joined at a media conference in downtown Boston by leaders from the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, A Better City, and NAIOP Massachusetts, a commercial real estate development association.

Massachusetts’ Governor Deval Patrick welcomed the move but some in the Legislature, where support for such large increases in the per-gallon tax has been uncertain, said the business groups were insufficiently focused on the pain it would afflict on motorists, the Glove reported. Either of the plans pushed by the governor or the business groups would give Massachusetts the highest gas tax in the nation.

“This coalition is profoundly out of touch with the struggles of working men and women of our state,” said Senator Steven A. Baddour, a Methuen Democrat who co-chairs the Legislature’s transportation committee.

Senator Richard R. Tisei, the Republican leader from Wakefield, echoed Baddour’s earlier comments that many supporters of a gas tax increase were “elites,” and said higher gas taxes were a greater concern to smaller businesses.

The oft-fractured business community has rarely linked arms to support higher taxes.

“I’ve been involved in politics in Massachusetts now for 25 years and I am honestly not sure that I can remember another time where the business community came out in such an organized way on behalf of a tax increase,” said Marc D. Draisen, a former Democratic legislator and executive director of the Metropolitan Area Planning Council, which advocates a 29-cent increase, Noah Bierman of the Globe reported.

A higher gas tax might also reduce the pressure on lawmakers to raise corporate taxes - which some of the groups have sought to reduce or hold steady.

The business groups argued yesterday that more money for roads will retain and attract business, move workers, spur development, and put people to work on fixing roads or expanding rail.

“It’s certainly not about elitism. It’s about getting people to work,” said Richard Dimino, president and CEO of A Better City, a transportation-oriented business group that had been a key business supporter of the Big Dig.

The coalition emphasized that significant structural changes under discussion in the Legislature, including reductions to MBTA fringe benefits, need to play a larger role in the debate and go hand-in-hand with higher taxes.

Patrick’s plan has generated some skepticism in the Legislature. Michael Widmer, president of the Massachusetts Taxpayers Foundation, said he worries that a compromise on a lower figure could leave lawmakers taking a tough political vote without raising enough money to fix the Massachusetts Turnpike, keep fares down on the MBTA, and improve regional transportation. By starting with a higher number, advocacy organizations may be hoping to shift the debate so that any compromise figure will be closer to Patrick’s number.

“It’s just basic to our economy that transportation and general infrastructure is really so necessary,” said Alan G. Macdonald, executive director of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable. Macdonald was a member of a statewide transportation finance commission that had suggested many of the structural changes being advocated by Patrick and the Senate, as well as a more modest gas tax hike.

David Begelfer, CEO of NAIOP Massachusetts, cited the state risks of losing companies that are hemmed in by bad transportation access. “We’ll never know the projects that were never built” because of a lack of road access, he said.

One notable exception to the pro-gas tax business group: Associated Industries of Massachusetts, the largest state business organization, said it opted out of the 25-cent plan because, though higher gas taxes will eventually be necessary, its members outside of Boston worry that they will not benefit.

“Given the economy,” said Brian Gilmore, Associated Industries’ executive vice president, “we really believe it would be prudent to do the reforms first and then focus on funding.”

Patrick and his transportation secretary, James A. Aloisi Jr., have been traveling the state in hopes of persuading commuters, particularly those outside Greater Boston, that they would benefit from better roads and transit access if the gas tax is raised.


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Stimulus Funds For California High Speed Rail

From Internet Sources

When the high-speed rail system is complete, it is expected to cover 800 miles and reach speeds of up to 220 mph.

California Proposition 1A (2008)

Proposition 1A, or the Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century appeared on the November 2008 ballot in California. The measure was approved with 52.3% of the vote.

Prop. 1A approves the issuance of $9.95 billion of general obligation bonds. This will partially fund a $40 billion, 800-mile high speed train under the supervision of the California High-Speed Rail Authority. The train will run between San Francisco and Los Angeles, with Anaheim, California, designated as the southern terminus of the initial segment of the high-speed train system. Estimates are that the train system would be completed in 2030, and that it would take passengers between San Francisco and Los Angeles in about 2 hours and 40 minutes.

$950 million of the bond proceeds will be available for capital projects on other passenger rail lines to provide connectivity to the high-speed train system and for capacity enhancements and safety improvements to those lines.

The new debt from 1A, including interest, must be paid from the general fund.

When President Obama added $8 billion to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for high speed rail in America at the last minute, it was clear he understood how far behind the United States has fallen in transportation compared to the rest of the industrialized world.

Already California had stepped up to the plate and passed a $10 billion ballot measure for a North-South high-speed rail link for trains which will travel over 220 mph.

Now with the possibility of receiving an infusion of cash from the federal government, the rail line could move along faster.

“This bill, especially the money for high speed rail, marks a bold step for 21st century transportation,” said John Krieger, with the U.S. Public Interest Research Group. “After decades of looking on with envy at efficient bullet trains overseas, American high speed rail is finally leaving the station.”

“It cannot be accurately said at this point because the money will go through a competitive grants process, which will be determined by the Federal Transit Administration,” said Erin Steva, transportation associate with CALPIRG.

The FTA must make sure that the high-speed rail project is worthy of receiving the money.

“Given the passage of Proposition 1A (See SIDEBAR), I think the state is well positioned to be able to capitalize on this opportunity,” Steva said.

The Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority (CCJPA) wants $98 million of the stimulus money.

CCJPA plans to submit grant applications requesting: $25 million for a Santa Clara and Newark track project; $22 million for a Hayward double-track project; $10 million for Emeryville station and track improvements; $10 million for a wireless/wired network program; $8 million for a ticketing and passenger communications program; $7 million for a Yolo Causeway west crossover; $6 million for Sacramento station and track facilities construction; $6 million for a San Jose track and station project in partnership with Caltrain; $2 million for capitalized system-wide track maintenance; and $2 million for a Bahia-Benicia second crossover project.

“These are relatively modest investments that will improve reliability, expand track capacity and continue our service improvements to the public,” said CCJPA Managing Director Eugene Skoropowski in a prepared statement.

The project could avoid the need for costly airport and highway expansion and could save millions of gallons of oil consumption. 

The push for rail and other transit comes at a time of record levels of public transportation and Amtrak ridership and growing frustration with airports.

Europe, Japan and China already have thousands of miles of high-speed rail.

Experts have said high-speed rail is a more efficient and time-saving option than airplanes for trips less than 500 miles.

“Funds for transit and other rail will get Americans back to work while reducing dependence on oil and congestion at highways and airports,” Krieger said.

CCJPA partners with Amtrak, Union Pacific Railroad and Caltrans to provide intercity passenger rail service along a 170-mile corridor in northern California.


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Stimulus Money To Fund Hudson-Bergen Light Rail, New Hudson Tunnel

From The Jersey Journal

Photo: Jersey Journal  

Federal stimulus money will go to the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail.
MARCH 5 -- The Obama administration said last Thursday that New Jersey will get $425 million for mass transit projects -- about $140 million of which will go to projects in Hudson County.

The money was included in the $787 billion stimulus package President Barack Obama signed into law last month.

NJ Transit plans to use the money for various projects, including a planned train tunnel under the Hudson River and rehabilitating its bus fleet at a cost of $35 million.

The proposed train tunnel under the Hudson, which officials say would double the number of eastbound trains that enter New York’s Penn Station every day, would cost $130 million.

New switches on the Hudson-Bergen Light Rail line would cost $15 million.

Other major NJ Transit projects that will be paid for with federal stimulus money, and their estimated cost:

  • Rail transfer station in Pennsauken to allow passengers to transfer between Atlantic City Line and River Line. $40 million.
  • Improved signal system for River Line light rail line. $24 million.
  • New jitney buses for Atlantic City. $2.25 million.
  • Expanded parking at Edison rail station. $11 million.
  • High-level platforms to allow access to Plauderville station in Garfield for people with disabilities. $15 million.
  • Pedestrian and traffic circulation improvements around Newark Penn Station. $17.3 million.
  • Rehabilitation work on the Lower Hack Drawbridge, which carries Morris & Essex lines to Hoboken. $30 million.
  • Signal improvements to the Morristown Branch, allowing for improved operations of the Morristown line. $25 million.
  • New bus shelters throughout state. $2.5 million.
  • Replacing ties and track throughout commuter rail system. $22 million.
  • Rehabilitating rail cars and locomotives. $35.8 million.
  • Purchase of minibuses for rural areas and support the expansion of commuter rail to those areas. $4.8 million.
  • New minibuses for the Access Link Paratransit system. $13.75 million.


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STOCKS...  Selected Rail Stocks...

Source: www.MarketWatch.com

   This
Week
Previous
Week
Burlington Northern & Santa Fe(BNI)53.4658.77
Canadian National (CNI)30.5432.34
Canadian Pacific (CP)25.8728.21
CSX (CSX)21.5924.68
Genessee & Wyoming (GWR)17.6120.89
Kansas City Southern (KSU)13.5317.69
Norfolk Southern (NSC)27.4131.72
Providence & Worcester (PWX)8.5010.91
Union Pacific (UNP)34.9837.52


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OPINION... Opinion...  

A View From Canada: Excerpts From An Opinion Piece

 

It’s Time, Finally, For Windsor-Quebec City
High-Speed Rail Link

By Korky Koroluk
Daily Commercial News And Construction Record

WINDSOR, ONTARIO, MARCH 6 -- “Sometimes I don’t know whether to laugh or cry,” writes Mr. Koroluk, at the “recent news that the government will study — again — the possibility of a high-speed rail link in the Windsor-Quebec City corridor.”

We know ......”that rail transport is an important tool in our fight against traffic congestion, pollution, and an air passenger system that provides every passenger with just enough space to satisfy your average sardine.”

Mr.Koroluk learned that a dozen studies have actually been done since 1973 and several attempts to do more studies have been thwarted. “Trying to count the number of studies that have already been done” he writes, “is enough to make anyone cry in frustration, or amazement at the political machinations that so often contaminate decision-making processes.”

This is the same hue and cry we hear in the United States. If they do enough studies, DOT agencies don’t have to actually BUILD anything during the lifetime of those in charge!

Now they are starting another study which he hopes will lead to action. He is encouraged by Obama’s proposals to invest in HSR and notes that one corridor of the high-speed network being considered for the Chicago area could connect Detroit with Windsor Ontario which is right across the river. “The timing couldn’t be better,” he writes. “We need to stimulate our economy, reduce pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, and high-speed rail can help with all three.”

“Imagine! A high-speed rail link that would be continental in scope! It’s enough to make a stodgy Canadian squirm, and enough to make business travelers eager to climb aboard. How fast would the trains be? Think something on the order of 300 kilometres an hour.”

Also, the new government in the United States is committed to spending US$1.3 billion (U.S.) to upgrade Amtrak service, and US$8.4 billion for high-speed rail projects.

The study group, called the EcoTrain Consortium, will look at route options, types of trains, land and development costs, and transportation demand forecasts. They will use information from previous studies in making forecasts.

Transport Minister John Baird said the study could take two years and warned that the project could cost between $40 million and $30 billion.

Korkuk points out that the Brookings Institute has a proposal to create a trans-border economic area covering the Great Lakes Basin. “High-speed rail fits nicely into that concept,” he writes, “especially if it links to American corridors.”.

It also fits into a report by Toronto’s Rotman School of Management on the need to create more links with other areas to boost the economy in Ontario.

Of course, it will cost money, he notes. We have to shed our “poor little Canada” mentality and do something bold.

The Quebec City-Windsor corridor would be a start.


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GUEST COLUMN... Guest Column...  

How The North-South Rail Link In Boston
Fills A Key Gap In The Northeast Corridor
Extending It To Portland, Maine And Beyond

By Fmr. Massachusetts Representative John Businger, Co-Chair,
Citizens Advisory Commission, North-South Rail Link And
Vice President, NCI

Not long ago, at the January 2009 New England National Corridors Initiative/Connecticut Sierra Club conference in New London, I had a chance to make a luncheon presentation on a project very near and dear to my heart, but more importantly, one that is critical to the economic and environmental futures of all of the Northeast. 

The proposed North- South Rail Link connecting North and South Stations in Boston fills the last 1-mile gap in the track system of the entire 450-mile-plus Northeast Corridor, and in fact extends the corridor to Portland, Maine ---and beyond, because Maine is extending that service as well --- by linking the Northeast Corridor Service to Maine via the successful “Downeaster” route.

The North-South Rail Link also connects the regional commuter rail system that presently dead ends on the North Side of Boston at North Station and on the South Side at South Station, more than doubling the size of the employee/employer pool in Eastern Massachusetts/Rhode Island/New Hampshire/Southern Maine.

The North-South rail link has both significant environmental and economic benefits for the New England region. It takes at least 55,000 trips daily from our highway system and greatly expands employment opportunities and tourism choices in the region, reducing congestion on the highways, and improving the quality-of-life for us all.

Delaying the project has been a needless political roadblock: after several years of environmental analysis and support by Massachusetts Governors, Weld, Cellucci, and Swift and the support of former Governor Michael Dukakis, former Governor Mitt Romney dashed hopes for the much-needed project by suspending the environmental process, in hopes of killing the project altogether.

That disruptive tactic has now failed.

Fortunately, Massachusetts’ new Governor Deval Patrick has renewed hopes by asking Congress for six million dollars to restart and complete the process and has said “you should do the engineering now before you have the money for the project.”

With that support from the “six million dollar man” and with a pro-rail President Barack Obama and a pro-rail Vice President Joe Biden in place, there is new hope for inner city rail projects, of which the North-South Rail Link is a prime example. So let’s get going all together to lobby for the North-South Rail Link! We have Massachusetts leaders like Senator Ted Kennedy and Senator John Kerry on board, as well as Congressmen such as Representative Stephen Lynch (D-Boston) and Jim McGovern (D-Worcester) and others, plus Congressmen and Senators from the Northeast who are signing on because this project is of such broad benefit to all of New England. Call your Senator or Congressman, and let them know we are all on the same journey together, and closing the last gap in the Northeast is an important way to make sure that journey is a happy one.

[ For additional details on the North-South Rail Link, see the presentation at the NCI Web site at: http://www.nationalcorridors.org/northsouthraillink/ ]


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EDITORIAL... Editorial...  

Obama’s On The Right Track With Rail Spending

By Neal Peirce
Syndicated columnist

This column appeared originally Friday, March 6, 2009 in The Seattle Times. Permission to reprint has been requested.

For decades, a hardy band of rail advocates — routinely ignored — has pressed for a modern rail passenger system in America.

So imagine their incredulous joy when Congress’ massive economic-stimulus bill suddenly included a massive commitment of $8 billion to construct high-speed rail systems — the most startling national pledge to rail since the Pacific Railway Act under President Lincoln.

And who was responsible for the last-minute insertion of the $8 billion, far beyond what either the House or Senate had initially approved? Barack Obama. White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel specifically asked the Senate-House negotiators to insert it. “I put it in there for the president,” Emanuel told Politico in an interview. “The president wanted to have a signature issue in the bill, his commitment for the future.”

Obama personally told long-term rail advocate John Robert Smith, mayor of Meridian, Miss., that he’d have preferred the stimulus-bill figure be even greater — $10 billion.

And Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood told National Public Radio: “I do think this is the transformational issue for this administration when it comes to transportation. I think President Obama would like to be known as the high-speed-rail president, and I think he can be.”

Obama’s new budget goes beyond the $8 billion, asking for another $5 billion high-speed-rail commitment over five years.

It’s true that Congress, after years of general indifference, has recently been giving Amtrak, our national passenger rail service, more support. But the change at the White House — President Bush actually advocated zero-funding of Amtrak — couldn’t be more dramatic.

Asserts James RePass, founder-leader of the 20-year-old National Corridors Initiative: “Suddenly, by the grace of God, we have a president who absolutely, positively gets it.” This signifies, he adds, an end to the reign of “the ideological libertarians out to destroy the transportation system by saying ‘the market’ will take care of it, that Amtrak should make a profit — which is nuts!”

A point of reality: Even $8 billion won’t go far to build a system that registers speeds that match the 180 miles per hour routine on European and Japanese trains. The closest might be achieved in California, where a $9 billion bond issue to start building a Sacramento-San Francisco Bay Area-San Diego rapid-rail line was approved last fall. Insiders say it might get about $2 billion from the new federal funds pool.

In most other regions, suggests Ross Capon of the National Association of Railroad Passengers, the money most likely will go for improvements to today’s train service. The more frequent and reliable that service becomes, the more traveling Americans are likely to be won over from auto or air travel.

One corridor that’s a prime candidate for upgrading is the economically hard-hit Midwest. The Midwest High Speed Rail Association has been pressing for years for funds to develop a Chicago-centered Midwest network including St. Louis, Cleveland, Minneapolis-St. Paul and Detroit — cities Obama has said he’d like to see linked by high-speed rail as an alternative to air travel.

Other corridor candidates include the Pacific Northwest (Seattle-Portland-Eugene), South Central (San Antonio-Dallas-Tulsa), Florida (Miami-Orlando-Tampa), Northern New England/New York (Boston-Springfield-Albany-Buffalo), and Southeast-Gulf Coast (linking Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, New Orleans and Houston). Major improvements are needed on the existing Northeast Corridor (Washington-Boston), where Acela trains still run at about half the speed of France’s TGV service.

On top of all that, the stimulus bill makes a significant infusion of $8.4 billion into public transit — fiscally flailing bus and subway systems that find their ridership rising fast even as local funding sources contract.

The magic of rail and transit investments is their multiple benefit. In the short term, they’re excellent recession fighters. Upgrading rail lines, for example, requires lots of blue-collar labor. Public transit employs so many people that $1 billion in transit funding creates 22,000 jobs, 70 percent more than military spending and 30 percent or more than a tax cut, according to University of Massachusetts economist Robert Pollin.

Just as crucial, rail and transit are intrinsically “green,” offering deep and lasting energy savings and climate-saving carbon reductions that the oil-dependent auto-truck sector simply can’t equal. And they mean investment in a more diversified, resilient American transportation system, a more competitive nation, for the century. A “signature issue” for President Obama? How could he do better?

Neal Peirce’s column appears regularly on editorial pages of The Times. His e-mail address is nrp@citistates.com.

Copyright © 2009, Washington Post Writers Group

Permission to reprint or copy this article or photo, other than personal use, must be obtained from The Seattle Times. Call 206-464-3113 or e-mail: resale@seattletimes.com with your request.


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END NOTES...  Publication Notes...

Copyright © 2009 National Corridors Initiative, Inc. as a compilation work and original content. Permission is granted to reproduce content provided acknowledgements to NCI are given. Return links to the NCI web site are encouraged and appreciated. Color Name Courtesy of Doug Alexander. Content reproduced by NCI remain the copyrights of the original publishers.

Web page links as reproduced in our articles are active at the time we go to press. Occasionally, news and information outlets may opt to archive these articles and notices under alternative web addresses after initial publication. NCI has no control over the policies of other web sites and regrets any inconvenience experienced when clicking off our web site.

We try to be accurate in the stories we write, but even seasoned pros err occasionally. If you read something you know to be amiss, or if you have a question about a topic, we’d like to hear from you. Please e-mail the editor at editor@nationalcorridors.org. Please include your name, and the community and state from which you write. For technical issues contact D. Kirkpatrick, NCI’s webmaster at webmaster@nationalcorridors.org.

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In an effort to expand the on-line experience at the National Corridors Initiative web site, we have added a page featuring links to other transportation initiative sites. We hope to provide links to those cities or states that are working on rail transportation initiatives – state DOTs, legislators, government offices, and transportation organizations or professionals – as well as some links for travelers, enthusiasts, and hobbyists. If you have a favorite link, please send the web address (URL) to our webmaster.

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