President Obama reiterated this morning his plan to build a nationwide system of high-speed rail lines to ease congestion and modernize the transportation systems in some of the country’s most populated corridors.
“A major new high-speed rail line will generate many thousands of construction jobs over several years, as well as permanent jobs for rail employees and increased economic activity in the destinations these trains serve,” Obama said. “High-speed rail is long-overdue, and this plan lets American travelers know that they are not doomed to a future of long lines at the airports or jammed cars on the highways.”
The federal stimulus package includes $8 billion for high-speed rail projects and Obama requested an additional $1 billion a year for the next five years. I’m sure that sounds wasteful to the TEA Party protesters, but building a high-speed rail system is stimulus spending I support. Not only would a high-speed rail system create jobs and ease congestion, it would help roads last longer and reduce carbon dioxide emissions per passenger, making it environmentally friendly. Plus faster travel times encourage tourism by making it easier to go to further-away places, which sounds a lot like true economic stimulus spending to me.
There currently is only one high-speed rail line operating in the United States, between Boston and Washington, D.C.
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The government identified 10 corridors of 100 to 600 miles in length with the greatest promise for high-speed rail development. They are:
— California Corridor (Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego)
— Pacific Northwest Corridor (Eugene, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver BC)
— South Central Corridor (Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Little Rock)
— Gulf Coast Corridor (Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Birmingham, Atlanta)
— Chicago Hub Network (Chicago, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville)
— Florida Corridor (Orlando, Tampa, Miami)
— Southeast Corridor (Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Macon, Columbia, Savannah, Jacksonville)
— Keystone Corridor (Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh)
— Empire Corridor (New York City, Albany, Buffalo)
— Northern New England Corridor (Boston, Montreal, Portland, Springfield, New Haven, Albany)
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One more note from Obama’s news conference, as reported by The New York Times:
In making the announcement, the president was joined by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr., whom Mr. Obama joshingly referred to as “America’s No. 1 train fan.”
In the Senate, Mr. Biden earned the nickname “Amtrak Joe” for his regular train use between Washington and his home in Delaware over decades and for his strong support for increased rail financing.
Perhaps someone can explain to me why The New York Times anally refers to the vice president as “Joseph R. Biden Jr.” but uses the hokey word “joshingly” in the same sentence.