High speed rail has been proposed for the US Midwest as a way to better and more quickly connect cities, while reducing pollution from individual cars. The Michigan Department of Transportation will be hearing the public’s views in several meetings next week.
High Speed Rail presents so much promise: It’s the greenest way to travel on anything powered by an engine. It bolsters economic development and connects cities. Its build-out creates thousands of jobs. And riding on it comes with WiFi and doesn’t require a body search. At least not yet.
So why aren’t we moving faster in the U.S. toward this 21st Century vision?
If enthusiasm were dollars, high speed rail would be zooming across in Texas.
There has been no shortage of advocates ready to envision and mock-up plans for fast passenger trains in the Lone Star state, starting back in the energy-crisis years of the 1970s and building steam throughout the 1980s when a group called the Texas Railroad Transportation Company (TRTC) devised a plan for the “Texas Triangle,” a 750-mile train route connecting Dallas/Fort Worth to San Antonio and Houston.
Chicago’s Union Station will be getting what many see as a long-needed renovation to accommodate heavy traffic.
Amtrak Board Chairman Tom Carper and Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn announced a $40 million capital construction project for the iconic downtown train hub, which will double the size of the passenger waiting area, add new restrooms and air conditioning to the “Great Hall”.
From Green Right Now Reports
The Illinois Senate today voted unanimously to create the Illinois and Midwest High Speed Rail Commission to help guide the development of high speed trains in Illinois and neighboring states. The vote by this one body is sufficient to create the commission, which will recommend the best government-private structure for designing, building, financing, operating and maintaining a high speed rail system.
The new passenger rail, which is being seeded by stimulus money, is expected to first connect Chicago with St. Louis, with trains that could go up to 220 miles per hour. At that speed, the travel time between the two cities would be just under two hours, making train travel a much more competitive option.
From Green Right Now Reports:
In a alert released this afternoon, entitled “Congress Gets It Right — Recovery Deal to Spur Clean Energy Economy”, the Natural Resources Defense Council praised the compromise stimulus package hammered out by Congress for the ways it steers the American economy in a greener direction.
“Congress really got it right with this economic recovery package that will deliver jobs and green infrastructure to America. The bill makes smart investments that will jumpstart the economy, help sustain future growth, and meet the challenges of the 21st century,”effused Wesley Warren, director of programs for the NRDC. “We need to put America on a path to a clean-energy economy, and Congress has taken a big step forward in heeding this call.
By Barbara Kessler
Green Right Now
When the giant stimulus bill expected to be approved by Congress, finally lumbers forth it will pour billions into projects that have been neglected, like highway renovations, and items that have recently bleeped onto the public radar screen, like clean energy incentives.
In some cases, money has been included (so far) for programs that have been debated and tabled for years. High speed rail, which is slated to get $8 billion, falls into that category.
You might be ask yourself, what is high speed rail? And you’d be right to ask that question, because right now, in America, there is no high-speed rail. There’s a grand plan for a high-speed train that would run the length of California, where voters last fall approved the first bond money for the Sacramento to San Diego line. Once, years ago, people proposed high-speed rail as a way to better connect Dallas, Austin and Houston, a plan that met an early death in a state well-served by airlines and enamored of highways.