Mention the word "rail" and let the discussions begin:
- I edited some transportation copy yesterday for our next BizVoice that, of course, includes rail — along with highways, air and ports — as critical to Indiana’s infrastructure for moving commodities and finished products.
- Add "light" in front of the "rail" and you have many wondering how cities, like Indianapolis, could be even better if there were efficient public transportation measures in place. Opponents rightfully point out the heavy investment needed to make such efforts a reality.
- Switch light to ‘high speed" and the controversy soars to an even higher level. The very brief history lesson is Europe thrives on moving people quickly and effectively; the U.S. lags way behind and appears destined to remain that way.
The latest on the high-speed front, courtesy of Stateline.org:
Congress on Tuesday (April 12) revealed the details of the federal budget deal reached by Democrats and Republicans late last week, and a clear loser is high-speed rail.
Funding for the program, a priority for President Obama, was slashed dramatically in the agreement announced by the administration and GOP House Speaker John Boehner. Not only does the deal eliminate all financing for high-speed rail this year, it takes back $400 million of the $2.5 billion that Congress authorized for it last year, The New York Times reports.
"The cuts will not bring the rail program to a halt, as there is still unspent rail money that can be used on new projects. But they leave the future of high-speed rail in the United States unclear, to say the least," The Times says. "Roughly $10 billion has been approved for high-speed rail so far, but that money has been spread to dozens of projects around the country. If Congress does not approve more money, it is possible that the net result of all that spending will be better regular train service in many areas, and a small down payment on one bullet train, in California."
High-speed rail has been a favorite target for congressional and state-level Republicans who see it as a waste of money. The opposition in the states has been led by three GOP governors who rejected funding for projects in their states: Rick Scott of Florida, John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin.