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The Obama administration is trying to boost the prospects for a high-speed rail system in many parts of the country. Some critics contend this is a huge waste of money, since the relatively low density of most American development results in poorly-used systems.
But there clearly is interest in many localities, based on the interest expressed in Dept. of Transportation grants for such work. On Oct. 28, 2010, DoT announced that it had awarded $2.4 billion for 54 projects in 23 states. The winners were selected from 132 applicants in 32 states, who had asked for a total of $8.8 billion. Money for the winning applicants is targeted for planning, construction, equipment purchases, and other closely related efforts.
Each of the winning and losing applicants, for both this cycle and the FY 2009 cycle, is a source for your coverage of high-speed rail development.
- High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program (contains links for details on both the FY 2010 and FY 2009 grant winners, and much more information).
Some of the winners are having problems with efficiently and effectively spending the DoT largesse. For one example of media coverage of such problems, see:
- "23 States Get $2.4 Billion for High-Speed Rail, California Accountability in Doubt," Environment News Service, Nov. 1, 2010.
One important consideration in this issue is that the results of the Nov. 2, 2010, elections, which resulted in a new governor in many states, could quickly shift the interest in high-speed rail. You can cover this potential flip-flop from the perspective of the governor, the winning and losing applicants, and DoT; Secretary Ray LaHood said on Nov. 15, 2010, that if a grant-winner decides not to accept its money, as may occur in Ohio, Wisconsin, and elsewhere, DoT will cancel the grant and give the money to others who want to develop high-speed rail.
- "State Projects Will Drive Funding for High-Speed Rail," Washington Post, Nov. 15, 2010, by Michael Bolden.