Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Obama Administration Responds on HSR

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

Although it has just barely been eclipsed by "Ending Marijuana Prohibition" high speed rail has been atop or near the top of the most popular issues listed on the Citizens Briefing Book of the Obama transition team. So they decided to respond, with this video from Nancy Sutley. Sutley is going to be the chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality and was until her nomination a high-ranking advisor to Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Here's her response (only the first segment is on HSR):

There's no firm commitment here to HSR, which is lame, but Sutley clearly gets the value of HSR and even gave a shout-out to the California project. It's a good sign that the incoming Obama Administration is going to take HSR seriously. Then again, we've had many "good signs" - it's time for some concrete plans!


Spokker said...

Hey Robert since YouTube went to widescreen you may want to widen your blog a bit if you don't want the videos to cut off the sidebar. If you need help doing it let me know.

Spokker said...

I like that trains are near the top of the list, but damn that site is retarded.

"Disclosure: formal acknowledgement of the extraterrestrial presence (UFO)"


Rafael said...

It would be nice to have someone more senior, e.g. Ray LaHood, explicitly state that HSR is integral to the strategic plans of the Obama administration. It's early days yet, the president is not yet sworn in and the confirmation process for his cabinet is ongoing.

At least this video proves that someone over there is actually reading the suggestions that are being made and paying attention to the support they are garnering, even if reducing the carbon footprint is arguably not the #1 reason for building the new line. HSR is mostly about expanding intercity transportation capacity to cope with expected population growth, about future land use patterns, about electrification in the transportation sector, about construction jobs and about induced economic growth.

I'd be surprised if significant funding were forthcoming in the stimulus bill that is taking up everyone's available cycles right now, because HSR won't break ground in the next six months. Maybe there'll be some money to continue with the project-level EIR/EIS and preliminary engineering work, either directly or else via a loan/grant to the state of California.

The big bucks won't be needed for another year or two. Support in principle for the Kerry-Specter bill would be welcome, since nothing useful can happen until FRA's position on HSR is clear. It would also be useful to see the Obama administration request that the Kerry-Specter bill be beefed up to at least $50 billion over 8 years.

Gamecoug said...

I agree that it's a good sign, and we've had good signs before, but we might let the guy take the oath of office before we start complaining that he's not moving fast enough. I think this administration is going to be the most pro-rail in the past 50 years. But, that's not hard. We need to make sure they're hte most pro-rail administration since the 19th century.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Gamecoug, just wait until you see the transit bloggers review of the Obama stimulus proposal. $30 billion for highways but only $10 billion for rail - even though the NEC alone has a $10 billion backlog, even though there are at least $15 billion in shovel-ready light rail projects that could be funded.

Presidential administrations don't start at the stroke of noon on January 20, at least not in political fact.

BruceMcF said...

No need to widen the blog, just edit the dimensions in the UTube embed code to 400 and 225 (16:9 x 25 each way).

What the #1 reason for building the HSR is depends on your priorities. For people outside of California, the number one direct reasons for supporting CAHSR are carbon footprint and energy independence, with the order varying from person to person ... the direct importance to the rest of the country of Californian land use patterns is the crude oil consumption and CO2 emission implied ... the importance to the rest of the country of sustainable electrification of Californian transport is crude oil consumption and CO2 emissions.

There's also a demonstration effect and economic spillovers, so its not restricted to that, but those are two pretty big planks in the platform for why there is a Federal responsibility to help with the project.