Secretary LaHood talked about his high-speed rail vision via satellite, as reported in the Philadelphia Inquirer:
New high-speed trains will link 80 percent of Americans within 25 years, at a cost of about $500 billion, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said Tuesday.
LaHood, who is leading the Obama administration’s push to create an American network of trains that can travel at least 160 miles an hour, said that the government and private companies would foot the bill, but that he did not know where money would come from.
LaHood made his remarks, via satellite video link from Washington, to a gathering of business and political leaders at Central Pennsylvania College in Cumberland County.
Gov. Rendell, hosting the conference, suggested that some of the billions now being spent on wars in Afghanistan and Iraq might better be used on high-speed rail.
“We’d have a lot of money to do a lot of things,” said Rendell.
To address the issue of the nation’s troubled highways, bridges, railroads, and other infrastructure, Rendell hosted a panel that included former New Jersey Gov. Jon S. Corzine, former U.S. House Democratic Majority Leader Dick Gephardt, laborers’ union president Terence M. O’Sullivan, and Google’s Pittsburgh office director, Andrew Moore.
Rendell - who in 2008 cofounded with California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg an organization called Building America’s Future to push for infrastructure improvements - said Tuesday: “Sometimes you spend money to save money and make money.”
“We have to wake up the American people to the challenge,” Rendell said.
On the issue of high-speed rail, LaHood noted that the Obama administration provided $8 billion in federal stimulus funds to jump-start a national push to build high-speed corridors around the country. He said that an additional $2.5 billion would be spent this year and that Obama had requested $1 billion more for next year.
Americans are clamoring for the kind of high-speed trains that operate in Europe, Japan, China, and elsewhere, LaHood said.
“People who go to Europe and Asia say, ‘Why don’t we have it?’,” he said.
“In less time than it took to create the interstate highway system, you’ll start to see high-speed rail in this country,” LaHood said.