Home > Economic Development, Urban Planning > Don’t Wait for DOT to Build the High Speed Rail in the Northeast

Don’t Wait for DOT to Build the High Speed Rail in the Northeast

I see that the NY Times is catching up to what’s been discussed on several blogs already. Maybe the “Infrastructurist” people took note of the discussions on that anti-HSR viral video on YouTube which relayed the information to the Times that this issue is still hot. People care about the HSR plans, which should be a tip to the government that indeed they are spending far too little on HSR. Unlike much of the stimulus, the HSR would produce a tangible product that is easy to explain and whose benefits could be felt by hundreds of millions. It can create public momentum if the government behaved in a way that showed it was serious about it, and did not lead people to believe it’s just another false start like in the 1970s.

However, reading this op-ed contribution in the Times this morning, you get the feeling that the author is naive about the Northeast Corridor’s congestion problems or thinks that those involved did not know“Money is needed to improve the overhead electric wires, straighten out curves and upgrade the track. And more trains are needed to increase trip frequency, reduce overcrowding and offer flexibility.” Before they do this, they had to replace 100 year old bridges. There just isn’t enough money, and there won’t ever be enough money, from the Federal government to get this accomplished. I’ve wanted HSR since I was in High School, I”m already past graduate school, have some grey hairs, and I don’t expect it completed in America until after I have children of my own who have graduated high school.

If the Northeast really understands that a European/East Asian HSR service is needed, they’re going to have to clear the right-of-way and find a majority of the money themselves. Heck, they didn’t even get the 2nd or 3rd most out of the stimulus bundle of money because they hadn’t put together any serious plans. There’s going to be a new governor in Connecticut, and hopefully no matter which party he or she is, they should promise to start organizing with the regions governors to get this built or it just will never happen.  If you think Obama and the Federal government is going to upgrade service in his political base’s swing house first, well, I got a bridge I think you’re going to love…

  1. March 8, 2010 at 6:15 pm

    I think you’re right in that the right-of-way is perhaps the largest impasse currently ahead of improving the NEC. Yes, the bridge and tunnel work will cost a bundle of cash, but not only do those things have to be done anyway but at least they have prices attached to them. Given the fact the the initiative to fully upgrade the NEC has not been entered into, Amtrak has still not taken the time to really figure out how much it would cost to purchase the required land to make curve alterations and dedicated track adjustments possible.

    Maybe there are opportunities for local governments to wheel and deal for parcels of necessary acreage, or some of this land could already be owned and regulated by the governments themselves. The point is, we need to want to go ahead for people to even to generate answers to these questions. Until then, people can be easily scared off by question marks.

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