NSI News

Rail investment a great start

Thirty-one states and the District of Columbiagot some very good news recently. They will soon claim their share of $8 billion in grants from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to create 13 new high-speed rail corridor projects and for planning initiatives to lay the groundwork for future high-speed intercity rail service.

The move represents a clear commitment and understanding by the Obama Administrationof this country’s dire need for a balanced transportation system. And wecan all look forward to the many benefits of such a system, including job creation. On that point, a new analysis by Smart Growth America found that in the first 10 months of last year’s economic stimulus package, investments in public transportation created twice as many jobs per dollar as investments in highways.

Still,while understanding thenecessity of spreading the new funds to multiple projectsaround the country, I agree with the Washington Post's editorialin that I would have rather seen some focused resources that could lead to the best overall transportation impact, particularly the Northeast corridor. Thisrail networkfrom Bostonto Richmond and almost every place in between is the nation’s most traveled rail line. It impacts 11 states and 110 million people and has the most potential for moving this country to a 21st century transit system.

Instead, the corridor is slated to receive $112 million in recovery money to help fund improvements along the route. As the Post opinion piece pointed out, these federal dollars are meant to be seed money to spur local and private investment. But these projects are massive, will take years to build and cost tens of billions of dollars. It is a start. Congress, however, must follow the lead of the Obama Administration and significantly reorder the priorities in America's transportation plan to make rail the investment of the future.

Stay tuned for NSI’s analysis of the potential public safety and security threats associated with these infrastructure and related issues.

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For more information, please contact Heather Sabharwal at hsabharwal@kglobal.com or 202-349-7016.