Ray LaHood Responds To High-Speed Rail Critics

DOT Secretary Ray LaHood responds to a Washington Post editorial that condemned not only the California High Speed Rail project, but President Obama's vision for a national high-speed rail network.

The editorial makes several criticisms of the federal funding of the Ca HSR project, among them the selection of the Central Valley as the place to begin construction. LaHood also notes that the federal government has awarded the Northeast Corridor, the one corridor that the Washintong Post deemed worthy of investment, $1.7 billion in funding.

"The Post creates a false choice between the Central Valley and other sections of the project that are not ready for construction. The Central Valley segment will connect to existing rail service at both ends of the line, improving passenger service even before other sections of high-speed rail are built. And, perhaps most important, the project will put Californians back to work."

From WaPo editorial: Hit the brakes on California's high-speed rail experiment: "We have our doubts about the ultimate feasibility of this vision, in part because in much of the country passenger rail can't compete with car travel by interstate highways. It's unclear that the public benefits attributed to high-speed rail - reduced carbon emissions and less airport congestion - would outweigh the inevitable operating subsidies, as Amtrak's experience suggests."

Thanks to John Carpenter

Full Story: Letter to Editor: California's high-speed rail project is on the right track



Irvin Dawid's picture

California's "Train To Nowhere" and the PA Turnpike

Here's an interesting (and lengthy!) editorial, "Post unfairly criticizes California high-speed rail" from Greater Greater Washington in response to the WaPo editorial: "Hit the brakes". The Post noted that initially the CA project connected two little known Central Valley cities north and south of Fresno, Borden and Corcoran, respectively.

I found this analogy to another cutting edge (for its time) transportation project most interesting: "(T)he line has to begin somewhere. On October 1, 1940, the Pennsylvania Turnpike opened. It ran from Carlisle to Irwin, both in the middle of nowhere. It didn't even reach Harrisburg in the east or Pittsburgh in the west. But that didn't mean that cars traveling between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg couldn't use it where it did exist."

Hmm, if they took out 'rail' and put in a car-like term (I don't think turnpike would be good for freeway-familiar Californians), would it be viewed more favorably? CA High Speed Autobahn?

Irvin Dawid, Palo Alto, CA

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