Connecticut, Intent on Improving In-State Rail Connections, Plans Bond Release

Hartford Station

» New Haven-Hartford-Springfield corridor would get significantly improved service, opening up possibility of Inland Route New York-Boston trains.

As the competition for the rapidly diminishing federal funds for intercity rail heats up, states are apparently taking seriously Washington’s call for increasing local spending on such projects. The $10.5 billion thus far allocated by the Congress for this transportation mode may encourage state and municipal governments to devote much more of their own funds to the program. Indeed, the U.S. Department of Transportation — at least behind the scenes — seems to be informing states that the only way they’ll receive future grants is by committing some of their own budgets to new tracks and rolling stock.

This is the case in Connecticut, which received only $40 million in the first distribution of funds this past January. Governor Jodi Rell (R), who is in her last year in office, wants

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Putting the American Commitment to High-Speed Rail in Context

Funding Share for French National Transport Plan

» Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood talks the right talk. But the American government seems fated to be unable to deliver on his promises.

The pie chart above puts in context the limited degree to which the Obama Administration and the U.S. governing structure in general have committed to advancing alternatives to our nation’s current over-reliance on the automobile. The image comes from France’s national transportation infrastructure plan, which was introduced to public consultation earlier this month. With €170 billion in funds for transport planned to be spent over the next twenty to thirty years, the report articulates a vision in which 95% of public spending goes towards modes other than road and air — with more than fifty percent of funds earmarked for intercity passenger and freight rail projects. Though the program, promoted by a conservative government, has yet to be approved and lacks a funding source,

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St. Louis’ Loop District Gets Endorsement from Feds with Grant for Streetcar

St. Louis Loop Trolley Map

» New “trolley lines” will connect to two light rail stations and activate region’s most urban district outside of downtown.

St. Louis’ successful bid for a $25 million grant to partially fund the construction of a new streetcar line in the city’s Loop district is being hailed in the local press as the latest achievement of a man who has in just a few of decades taken what was once a downtrodden street and transformed it into one of the city’s most active commercial areas. Joe Edwards — the “mayor” of the Delmar Loop — started a restaurant, then restored a concert hall, then opened a hotel and a bowling alley, and recently he has been the primary proponent of this rail project.

From that perspective, it makes sense that of the nine streetcar systems* the federal government has funded this year (thanks to the TIGER

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Weekend Links

SMART Train Sketch

» This week’s big news. Open thread in the comments.

Follow my Twitter account (@ttpolitic) to get news in real time. I’ll be traveling this week and next; if you’d like to meet up in New Orleans (July 29-August 1) or San Francisco (August 2-7), send me an email.

On The Transport Politic:

Ohio Hub advances as passenger rail connections to Toledo and Pittsburgh studied
New Haven, Stamford enter streetcar wars with proposed station-to-downtown links
Ensuring the efficient workings of a bike-sharing system
The U.S. emphasis on passenger rail and the future of freight

Beginnings

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell announces that he’ll consider “flexing” some of his state’s highway dollars for the purposes of funding transit. Despite the fact that federal law allows almost all roads money to be used for public transportation, the instances of that being

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The U.S. Emphasis on Passenger Rail and the Future of Freight

Train path comparison

» Industry, citing experience with Amtrak, is concerned that more passenger rail services could increase costs and reduce freight train movements.

The American intercity rail system, it is frequently argued, is notable for the world-class efficiency of its freight trains and the miserable record of its passenger system. While we transport a huge percentage of our goods on track, we move just a tiny percentage of people as such.

The Obama Administration, of course, is spending billions to change that situation, investing in true high-speed lines in California and Florida and upgrades to existing track in Illinois, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and elsewhere. Though the current commitment isn’t yet enough to produce service that will connect “80% of America,” it will significantly improve the performance of passenger trains in certain areas.

Will those improvements, however, come to the detriment of freight service? The Economist addressed that issue this week in a

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The Site / The Fight

by Yonah Freemark

yfreemark (at) thetransportpolitic (dot) com

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