Amtrak's Proposed 'Corridor' Expansion, Explained

Even while dealing with the economic fallout of the pandemic, Amtrak is forging forward with plans to expand intercity rail passenger service around the country.

February 11, 2021, 5:00 AM PST

By James Brasuell @CasualBrasuell


2021 is starting on an optimistic note for Amtrak. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee recently approved a measure to include $1.5 billion in funding for Amtrak as part of the larger, $1.9 trillion stimulus bill still making its way through Congress.

But Amtrak also has plans for a $25 billion expansion of service that is moving forward amidst the uncertainty and contractions of the pandemic. A recent article by Eric Anderson describes the scope of Amtrak's "corridor" plan that would add intercity passenger rail service all over the country—places like Tennessee, Texas, and Nevada. An article about the five corridors proposed for Ohio was the most-read news article of the first week of February on Planetizen.

"Amtrak is focusing on developing new 'corridors,' routes tying together population centers that are several hundred miles apart and offer frequent train service. Some of the changes would be extensions of existing routes," explains Andersen of the strategic thinking of the broader expansion plan before digging into the details of the proposed corridors in New York State (Andersen is writing for the Albany Times Union) and the Capital Region.

Amtrak could extend service between Albany and Buffalo beyond to Cleveland and potentially Toledo and Detroit, for example. Service between Detroit and New York City is under consideration as well, along with restoring the corridor from New York City to Scranton, Pa., and possibly north to Binghamton.

Andersen also provides a lot of information about proposed corridor service in other parts of the country, noting that much of the program would focus on the South and West. "Completely new corridors would connect Chattanooga and Nashville with Atlanta; Atlanta and Charlotte; Jacksonville with Orlando, Tampa and Miami; Los Angeles with Las Vegas; Los Angeles with Phoenix and Tucson; and Denver with communities along the front range of the Rocky Mountains."

As for how Amtrak would achieve such a lofty ambition for passenger rail in the United States, Andersen writes: "Amtrak is proposing a five-year, $25 billion spending plan that would pay for trains and other equipment, as well as covering startup and other operating costs, with the operating support gradually shifting over a period of years to the state in which the trains are operating."

Planetizen first reported on Amtrak's expansion plans in October 2020.

Friday, February 5, 2021 in Albany Times Union

Chicago Commute

Planning for Congestion Relief

The third and final installment of Planetizen's examination of the role of the planning profession in both perpetuating and solving traffic congestion.

May 12, 2022 - James Brasuell

Twin Cities

Minneapolis Housing Plan a Success—Not for the Reason You Think

Housing advocates praise the city’s move to eliminate single-family zoning by legalizing triplexes on single-family lots, but that isn’t why housing construction is growing.

May 13, 2022 - Reason

Single-Family Housing Construction

New White House Housing Initiative Includes Zoning Reform Incentives

The Biden administration this morning released a new program of actions intended to spur housing construction around the United States.

May 16, 2022 - The White House

University of Arizona

Proposed Transit Line Would Connect Downtown Tucson to Airport

Based on community input for a 15-mile transit line, residents want to see a focus on affordable housing development and anti-displacement measures.

May 22 - KGUN

Shuttered strip mall in Niland, California

Strip Malls as a Housing Solution

The American strip mall may be a dying breed of commercial development, but could the buildings serve a new use as sustainable housing?

May 22 - Yale Environment 360

Complete Street Vancouver

Study: Most of Vancouver Is a ‘15-Minute City’

A large majority of Vancouver residents can access a grocery store in 15 minutes or less by bicycle or on foot.

May 20 - Vancouver Sun

HUD’s 2022 Innovative Housing Showcase

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Expanding HUD’s Eviction Protection Grant Program

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

New Updates on The Edge

HUD's Office of Policy Development and Research

Urban Design for Planners 1: Software Tools

This six-course series explores essential urban design concepts using open source software and equips planners with the tools they need to participate fully in the urban design process.

Hand Drawing Master Plans

This course aims to provide an introduction into Urban Design Sketching focused on how to hand draw master plans using a mix of colored markers.