Lawmaker's high-speed rail plan: Will it fly?
A new plan would launch a high-speed rail service between Boston to Washington.
December 13th, 2011
03:42 PM ET

Lawmaker's high-speed rail plan: Will it fly?

How fast can high-speed trains come to the Northeast corridor? Not fast enough for Republican Rep. John Mica of Florida.

The chairman of the House Transportation Committee recently came out with a proposal to create a high-speed rail line – trains that can travel more than 200 mph – between Boston and D.C. in 10 to 15 years. Can it be done in half the time Amtrak said it would take?

“It absolutely can be done,” said Andy Kunz, president of the U.S. High Speed Rail Association, an independent trade group. “No one said it’s going to be easy. The Northeast corridor … will be probably the most complicated rail line in America to upgrade.”

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More than 700,000 passengers ride the rails of the Northeast corridor every day. The trains would have to keep rolling while construction takes place, not just Amtrak trains but commuter lines that run through several major cities.

“You’re talking about eight or nine states that have to cooperate,” Kunz said. “The federal government, Amtrak and several transit agencies all have to cooperate. That’s what’s going to be the bottleneck.”

A lengthy and complicated environmental impact statement must first be performed for the entire line from Boston to Washington. That could take three or four years.

“Then, after that, the normal procedure is that you would produce specific environmental impact statements on each segment of the corridor,” said Petra Todorovich, director of the America 2050 Project at the Regional Plan Association, an urban planning think tank in New York.  “So that’s a whole process that could drag on for five, six, seven, eight years, possibly.”

Todorovich studied the nation’s transportation needs moving forward as the U.S. population is projected to grow by 130 million people over the next four decades.

“I’m glad that Chairman Mica is pushing us here, because frankly, the 30-year timetable is too long,” Todorovich said. But she has her doubts. “Honestly, I’m not sure if we can complete it in 10 to 15 years.”

Mica thinks a public-private partnership can succeed with a shorter timetable.

“Congress can set the parameters for how this is done. Congress can speed up the project. We just have to have a commitment to get it done,” he said.

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soundoff (20 Responses)
  1. g8terh8ter

    We need to cut off Florida from the USA and let it sink into the depths forever. Florida has no redeeming characteristics.

    December 13, 2011 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  2. nrg

    Baba Booey Baba Booey!

    December 13, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • ert

      Hey Now!

      December 13, 2011 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  3. I have a drem

    Is this the line for the methadone program or the needle exchange program?

    December 13, 2011 at 5:37 pm | Report abuse |
    • Bugs Ears

      LMAO!!! 😉

      December 13, 2011 at 7:28 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Retired

    Well that's nice. I hope they do it.

    December 13, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  5. desasanankulon

    Reblogged this on desasanankulon.

    December 13, 2011 at 6:08 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Reviving the rail industry with a bullet train is like polishing a turd.

    December 13, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Slow Trains

    Every 17 minutes, a US train derails, and that's the slow ones we already have. Going faster might not be such a good idea for Americans. Imagine if we didn't have a highway speed limit...the carnage. No, we better stick to slow and maybe even consider going slower.

    December 13, 2011 at 7:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Portland tony

      You want slow, get on any freeway or toll road during rush hour.

      December 13, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Slow Trains

    How many accidents are caused by attention deficit disorder? If you have ADD, you should be required to have a big orange triangle on your cars roof, and not allowed to exceed 25 mph. This would save more lives than banning cellphone and cheezberger drivers.

    December 13, 2011 at 7:32 pm | Report abuse |
  9. DustyW

    Scanning the comments reminds me once again to never, EVER read the comments. We've turned into a nation of morons.

    December 13, 2011 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Mr. McGoo

    @Dusty. You added nothing and tried to take-away what little we had. How miserable. TAILgaters are the real killers according to EVERY study. Yack on your cell or chomp on your cheezeburger all you want. Just don't be so ignorant of the laws of physics to do so while TAILgating me. Vote "Yes" on prop 184b, mandantory mental evaluations for tailgaters. Medicate them to back-off.

    December 13, 2011 at 11:11 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Guiffreya

    Magoo. You never add anything. Can't we throw you under a high-speed rail? Please?

    December 13, 2011 at 11:47 pm | Report abuse |
  12. s kel

    Hell I drive that fast between DC and Boston now.

    December 14, 2011 at 2:32 am | Report abuse |
  13. banasy©

    @s kel:
    I hope you're feeling better.

    As an aside, slow down! 😉

    December 14, 2011 at 7:48 am | Report abuse |
  14. ronvan

    AMTRAK = CRASH: Why? Maybe because the trains themselves are modern, improved, while the tracks are from the 50's – 40's? This difference with a hi speed rail system is that it would have to be built from scratch! With that said, I am not sure that this system is really needed. I hate to compare, but in Europe thier trains are extremely punctual. The other thing is they have "parking lots" outside of major cities, where you can leave your car and take other transportation into town. In the U. S. we are spoiled with our cars, and if we could would park it outside of the door to work, to shop, etc..

    December 14, 2011 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  15. bobcat ( in a hat )

    Why in the world do we need a 200 mph train ? These billions of dollars going in to this can damn sure be used for more important things. This seems more like a keep up with joneses type deal.
    People need to slow down. Isn't life moving fast enough already ?

    December 14, 2011 at 10:51 am | Report abuse |
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