Where Does High-Speed Rail Go From Here?

Some states (including my home of Connecticut) are still counting the ballots, but overall the voters have spoken; out with the old bums, and in with some new ones. It is being called a major “repudiation” of the Obama Adminstration as Republicans gain control of the House, while Democrats maintain their grip on the Senate.

That's about as much as I care to know about what happened on Tuesday. The question that is nagging me is, once January rolls around and new elected officials are sworn in, what happens to the grandiose plans for high-speed rail?

Republicans have been voted into office on a promise to cut back government spending. This isn't the first time they made this promise, as this was the same promise they made during Reagan's first term in office as well as during the “Republican Revolution” of 1994. Still, despite years of decadent spending, they might actually be serious this time. In my humble opinion, the government could use a fair bit of trimming…but not at the expense of our future.

Many Republicans decry high-speed rail as expensive and unnecessary while at the same time screaming about jobs. Maybe some of these guys will change their minds and realize the benefits of rail. Maybe they really will return the money granted to them by the government as Republican John Kasich, governor-elect of Ohio, promises. This is short-sighted though because he is giving back money that could create thousands of jobs, many of them permanent. Many of the great infrastructure accomplishments both here and abroad were accomplished during tight times, as a means to create jobs and better the future. I truly believe the country is on the way to recovery, now is not the time to pull the plug on government spending that will directly benefits hundreds of thousands of train riders, as well as drivers who have fewer people to compete with for highway space.

Just look around the world. We are one of the only developed countries in the world without a real high-speed rail system. I'm not advocating we become more like Europe in every way, but when even China, is investing billions into this technology, do we really want sit back and say that now is the time to tighten the purse strings?

Our government is, for the first time in a decade, pretty well divided between left and right. There is plenty of fat to trim from the government without dumping plans for high-speed rail, the bums on both sides of the aisle just have to get together and make some hard decisions.

Like that will ever happen.

Source: The Transport Politic

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