» This week’s big news. Open thread in the comments.
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On The Transport Politic:
- U.S. Announces $8.5 Billion in Requests for High-Speed Funds; $2.3 Billion Available
- Can Bike Sharing Work in Cities With Monofunctional Job Centers?
- Chicago’s Parking Fiasco Fails to Stem Calls for Privatization of Infrastructure
- Chicago’s Plans for a High-Speed Airport Link Revived Thanks to Investor Interest
A note on the last article: In discussing the matter of access between Chicago’s downtown and its airport, I neglected to mention two important issues about such links that generally apply to places throughout the country. One, that they’re too often proposed as elixirs (even “money-makers”) for struggling transportation agencies and thus that they are sometimes prioritized over more important projects; and two, that the City of Chicago would do well if it truly thought over the value of such a connection before it pushed its construction. The second is especially relevant considering the clear current federal emphasis on high-speed intercity projects. Last year, French national railroad company SNCF proposed a bypass loop around Chicago, running through the airport, as an essential element of its proposal for a Midwest high-speed rail project, but didn’t suggest a direct fast downtown-airport connection. Perhaps that should put in question what is the more important investment for the whole region.
New Directions for the Old South series on Next American City:
Fast Trains Aren’t Easy
For those hoping high-speed rail could be a non-partisan issue, this week likely served as an ugly wake-up call. In Wisconsin, which received hundreds of millions of dollars from the Obama Administration earlier this year, GOP gubernatorial candidate Scott Walker has been making a big deal about how he would return the money if he’s elected to office later this fall. This isn’t new news from Walker, who’s been fighting the project for months, but now he has created a special website designed to criticize the Milwaukee-Madison intercity rail project, which he’s opposing because it would require the state to chip in annual operating subsidies. He prefers investing in roads subsidies instead.
Over at the California High-Speed Rail Blog, Robert Cruickshank has detailed the push by Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman to delay funding for the high-speed rail project between Los Angeles and San Francisco. Her Democratic rival Jerry Brown supports a project speed-up, whatever that means.
Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal suggests that the $8.5 billion in requests for funding the DOT received for a $2.3 billion pot earlier this month means that states are backing off from high-speed rail because of the now-required 20% local commitment. This, evidently, is too much for many states, especially those controlled by conservatives who are uninterested in putting up their own money.
Image above: Light rail at Denver’s Union Station, from Flickr user DanTheWebmaster (cc)