It only took an energy crisis, a climate crisis and a horrible train accident, but Congress has finally taken a first step towards providing a real transportation alternative. The House and Senate have both approved a rail safety bill that includes $680 million a year for five years for high speed rail projects. This same bill includes safety improvements, and doubles Amtrak’s funding to $13 billion over five years.
Of greatest interest to this Chicago-lover is the possibility of high-speed rail in the Midwest. Always one to provide the bacon for Minnesota (not to be confused with pork), Congressman Oberstar says that this bill could mean a high-speed connection between Chicago and the Twin Cities in the next five years. That seems like an awfully ambitious timeline, especially given the last sentence in the story, “…matching funds need to come from state and local sources”. But, if we get some new, pro-rail leadership in the White House in January (McCain’s position, Obama’s position), perhaps things really could start to happen in less than a decade.
One question for the readers, why is a line from Duluth to the Twin Cities a higher priority than the Chicago-Twin Cities line? Have they already “stud[ied] the impact” of the Chicago route (I assume this means a EIS process)? Why is Duluth a viable destination for a train line anyway?