Local advocates for high-speed rail want state legislators and other state officials to press ahead with the resurrection of passenger rail service here.
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The rail group emphasizes it's not asking for new money to be raised; it wants 2 percent of the state's transportation budget to be spent on rail planning.
Shifting money toward rail development could be crucial to the state's ability to raise local matches necessary to spend federal funding.
But the resistance is building:
Many Americans soon could see European-style high-speed trains in their backyards, but a wave of Republican gubernatorial victories means the project -- once touted by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as a "game changer" -- faces many obstacles ahead.
Last week, the Department of Transportation yanked away nearly $1.2 billion in funds from Wisconsin and Ohio after incoming governors in both states said they would not continue the project, and distributed it to 13 other states where high-speed rail projects are moving forward as planned.
Rail is a legitimate part of our national transportation infrastructure and deserves its place along with highways and airports in the federal funding line. But making high speed rail the kinds of success here that it is in Europe is probelmatic for a lot of reasons, and billions poured into it are likely to be billions wasted. Robert Samuelson of Newsweek has a pretty good handle on why high speed rail is really just por:
We are prisoners of economic geography. Suburbanization after World War II made most rail travel impractical. From 1950 to 2000, the share of the metropolitan population living in central cities fell from 56 percent to 32 percent, report UCLA economists Leah Platt Boustan and Allison Shertzer. Jobs moved too. Trip origins and destinations are too dispersed to support most rail service. Only in places (Europe, Asia) with greater population densities is high-speed rail potentially attractive.
That subrubanization was made possible in large part because of government policy in promoting highways. Because the government was so succesful with a previous subsidy, in other words, it has made a rail subsidy more impractical.