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Posts Tagged ‘Innovation Briefs’

A $53 Billion High-Speed Rail Program to Nowhere

Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

Vice President Joe Biden announced today a plan to spend $53 billion over the next six years on passenger high-speed rail projects that will help reach the goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years. According to the announcement, the proposal will place high-speed rail “on equal footing with other surface transportation programs.” The initiative includes $8 billion in the President’s FY 2012 budget proposal, of which $4 billion will be focused on building new infrastructure and $4 billion will be dedicated to system preservation and renewal. The announcement makes no mention how the plan will be paid for.

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Congratulations to FRA on a Sensible Decision

Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Two months ago we reported on the railroad industry’s reaction to the FRA’s directive setting forth the terms of the so-called “Stakeholder Agreements.” Those are the agreements between state authorities and Class I railroads that will govern the shared-use freight-passenger rail service in rail corridors receiving federal aid under the Administration’s high-speed rail (HSR) program. The FRA directive stunned and angered railroad executives by what they regarded as unreasonable demands, and burdensome requirements…We are happy to report that reason and good sense have prevailed. In a press conference on August 20, FRA Administrator Joseph Szabo announced that the agency has withdrawn the controversial directive.

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New Political Realities May Sidetrack the Transportation Reauthorization

Monday, July 19th, 2010

Over the past eight months the U.S. Department of Transportation has been conducting a series of “listening sessions” around the country to solicit new ideas from stakeholders and interested citizens for the next multi-year surface transportation bill…The latest listening session took place amid growing speculation by political analysts that the Democrats may lose control of the U.S. House of Representatives in November. This speculation has been reinforced by White House press secretary Robert Gibbs who commented on last Sunday’s “Meet the Press” and again at his regular press briefing the following day, that “there are enough seats in play that could cause Republicans to gain control.”

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The Accidental Legacy of the High-Speed Rail Program

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

…the HSR initiative could turn out to be of considerable economic benefit to the nation — but not quite in the way the program has been sold to the public and not exactly in the manner it is still being envisioned by the Conference of Mayors and other passenger rail boosters.

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The Rail Debate Intensifies

Monday, June 28th, 2010

We think a strong case can be made that true high-speed rail will eventually be necessary in the U.S. between major city-pairs separated by less than 300-400 miles, in order to relieve unacceptable levels of airport and air traffic congestion. In Europe, air service between Paris-Brussels [162 miles], Paris-Lyon (246 miles) and Cologne- Frankfurt [94 miles] has already been totally replaced by high-speed rail service.

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Is the High Speed Rail Program At Risk?

Wednesday, June 16th, 2010

Ever since President Obama announced his high speed rail (HSR) program initiative and Congress approved $8 billion to fund it as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in February 2009, many States have lined up to stake out a share of the new money. States that had been working on high-speed rail plans for years saw it as an opportunity to finally bring their projects to fruition, while others scrambled to get rail corridor planning underway so that they too could qualify for a share of the pie. The prize looked particularly attractive because the dollars will flow directly to the recipient states without requiring a local match.

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Two Bold Predictions

Monday, May 3rd, 2010

Two bold predictions concerning the future of the federal surface transportation program have caught our eye in recent days. Both have come from respected veterans of the transportation scene so they cannot be lightly dismissed as speculations of some anonymous bloggers.

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The Federal Surface Transportation Program Gets a New Lease on Life

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

The HIRE Act (Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment Act, H.R. 2847, P.L 111-147), signed by the President on March 18, has placed the federal surface transportation program on a firm footing and taken the pressure off the lawmakers and the White House to come up with a more permanent solution — at least for a while.

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