Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thanks Senate! (for real this time)

  • High-speed and inner-city rail: Went from $300 million in House bill to $2.25 billion in Senate to $8 billion in final version. There also is a $6.9 billion provision for public transit.
  • But where is that money going? California is in line for the lion's share, and I think they deserve it. I'd love to see high-speed rail throughout this country, and California is truly embracing it. They've planned state tax dollars for it, and they have a solid plan to connect San Diego and San Francisco. Second in the running is the Las Vegas to Los Angeles which would dovetail nicely, but thankfully the Federal government likes to distribute its wealth on both sides of the Mississippi.

    It turns out there's lots of other cities lining up for that money. Atlanta and Baltimore are also fighting for East Coast Maglev money. But did you know New York wants a high-speed line from Albany to Buffalo? How about Dallas to Houston?

    Does Pittsburgh have an edge? Pennsylvania is home to one of the measly 3 Republican Senators that voted for the Stimulus who also happens to be a fan of high-speed rail and came under LOTS of flack for voting against the grain. If Specter can turn around and bring some serious federal dollars here for Maglev, I'm sure he'll be back in good graces with his voters if not his party.

    Back in November, some Maglev money was magically discovered for which Pittsburgh was a top contender.

    Finally, on the campaign trail, Obama said the following:
    "One of the things I have been talking about for awhile is high-speed rail connecting all of these Midwest cities - Indianapolis, Chicago, Milwaukee, Detroit, St. Louis."
    Surely, that counts for something. Obama didn't explicitly mention Pittsburgh but as Jim Russel at R2P has mentioned, Pittsburgh is a key connector between the East Coast and the Midwest. The first step to that is Maglev Pittsburgh. The $4 Billion and higher price tag makes $100 Million for the North Shore Connector seem paltry, doesn't it?

    But don't hold your breath.


    Schultz said...

    Not holding my breath for us getting any money but this is HUGE. Thank you for posting. High speed rail of this magnitude will not only create thousands of construction and engineering jobs but it will create thousands of permanent jobs. Unlike tax cuts, high speed rail will also vastly improve our mobility from region to region. This rules. It also makes me feel a lot better about the stimulus bill. Thanks again.

    Bram Reichbaum said...

    The Democratic caucus won't let Specter give us maglev or high-speed rail, sadly, because then he'll look good, and we'll vote for him, and he's a Republican. The Republican caucus, on the other hand, probably could make the appropriation, but they HATE HIM!!! If they'd like to hold on to the seat they should give it to him, but they probably won't want to "reward" his disloyalty on voting for it.

    Grr. I think we have a better shot with "Pittsburgh is a key connector". That's what got us here.