Archive for the ‘dick durbin’ Category

Keepin’ it rail in the Midwest

February 23, 2009

Seems our previous blog post on high-speed rail’s future prospects was a bit prescient. Check out this AP piece in the Chicago Tribune today on how Chicago, as a hub, stands to score more high-speed-rail funds thanks to early support from Obama and other Illinois pols in his cabinet (notably Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood).

Looks like Nevada and California—which want a high-speed line connecting Las Vegas and Anaheim—might be the caboose in this scenario.

Excerpted from the article:

Howard Learner, president of the Chicago-based Environmental Law and Policy Center, a group promoting a Midwest high-speed rail network, said his area is in excellent position to capture a good chunk of that money. The Federal Railroad Administration, he said, has recognized the Midwest initiative connecting Chicago and 11 metropolitan areas within 400 miles as the system most ready to go.

He and others brushed aside claims that the $8 billion was set aside for Reid’s favorite. Obama, who expressed strong interest in high-speed rail investment during the campaign, and his chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, are both from Chicago. Obama’s transportation secretary, Ray Lahood, also is from Illinois. So is the Senate’s no. 2 Democrat, Richard Durbin.

A WPA-type high-speed-rail project in the Land of Lincoln, the original rail splitter? Somehow apropos, isn’t it?

Then again, we’re talking years and years of construction and development.

Meantime, why don’t we all take a cue from the bike- and hike-friendly Rails to Trails Conservancy, and try to drive some funds their way as well? Those repurposed dilapidated tracks, like Chicago’s imminent Bloomingdale Trail, could be fixed up a whole lot quicker.

(Above photo, of Obama-Biden whistle-stop tour during their election campaign, from Time Inc.)