The $3.75 million that the Lone Star State will receive is a sliver of the more than $8 billion distributed, mostly to states that have plans and other funding ready to go.
The goal is to build a coordinated national high-speed-rail network that could help relieve road and air congestion. Plans range from upgrading Amtrak tracks to help trains move at more than 100 mph to building elevated tracks for European-style bullet trains, which could shuttle travelers across long distances at more than 185 mph.
Long-standing plans call for the high-speed network to pass through the Metroplex, linking North Texas with St. Louis and Chicago to the north and San Antonio to the south.
Let’s just say we’re a long, long way from that. The DMN puts it in context.
Consider what others are doing. Take Florida, which has, like Texas, a Republican governor and GOP-controlled Legislature:
- In October, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told Florida lawmakers to get their “act together” if they wanted stimulus money Congress authorized for high-speed rail.
- In December, those lawmakers passed a high-speed rail bill in special session to address governance and funding.
- Thursday, President Barack Obama went to Florida with Amtrak-riding veteran Joe Biden to announce a $1.25 billion grant to develop Tampa-to-Orlando service for 168-mph trains.
In California, voters had already embraced bullet-train development by approving a $10 billion stake in financing. Illinois, aside from having close friends in Washington, had pledged support to modernize current Chicago-to-St. Louis service.
In the rail sweepstakes, no smart money was on Texas – certainly not after Karen Rae, deputy administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration, said in Austin this month that there “has been no central vision, no common vision for rail in Texas.”
With that assessment, we agree.
Ouch. I don’t know when the next opportunity will come, but I sure hope we can do better than this.