Obama unveils high-speed rail plan

by Briana Bierschbach

President Barack Obama unvieled a high-speed rail deveolopment plan Thursday, highlighting projects in at least 10 regions, according to the New York Times.


At a press conference in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Obama said stimulus funds have yet to be allocated to specific projects, but the Transportation Department had expedited this process and would begin awarding funds to shovel-ready projects by the end of summer.


According to the New York Times, the government has identified 10 out of 100 corridors with greatest promise for high-speed development. No lines near Minnesota were in the top 10, but the Chicago Hub Network has been mentioned as a line near the top of priority lists. The Chicago high-speed line would connect Minneapolis, Chicago and Wisconsin.


The projects listed include an Empire line running east to west in New York State; a Keystone corridor running laterally through Pennsylvania; a southeast network connecting the District of Columbia to Florida and the Gulf Coast; a corridor in central and southern Florida; a Texas-to-Oklahoma line, and a California corridor where voters have already approved a line that will allow travel from San Francisco to Los Angeles in two and a half hours.


Funds will be awarded as part of the $8 billion in stimulus funds awarded specifically to high-speed rail.

“What we need … is a smart transportation system equal to the needs of the 21st century,” Obama said, “a system that reduces travel times and increases mobility, a system that reduces congestion and boosts productivity, a system that reduces destructive emissions and creates jobs.”