Fast Track to the Future: The New Vision for High-Speed Rail

October 30, 2009

Polly Trottenberg, Assistant Secretary for Transportation Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation
Karen Rae, Deputy Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration
Commentary by Jose Gómez-Ibáñez, Bok Professor of Urban Policy and Planning, Harvard Kennedy School and Graduate School of Design
Contending that the development of high-speed rail service would reduce traffic congestion, cut dependence on foreign oil and improve the environment, the Obama administration last April launched an aggressive effort to help develop such service in up to 10 corridors across the country. Seeking to create a federal/state partnership similar to the ones that spurred the development of a national highway system and a national aviation system in the latter half of the 20th century, the federal government is offering about $8 billion to support the development of high-speed rail in congested corridors of 100-to-600 miles in length across the country. In response, states and localities, however, have submitted requests for more than $100 billion in funding for new high-speed rail projects. How will the federal government choose among these projects, what is that funding likely to achieve, and how can the commitment to new high-speed rail lines be sustained?
This event is co-sponsored by The Rappaport Institute for Greater Boston and The Taubman Center for State and Local Government.