Faster than a speeding locomotive, the U.S. High Speed Rail Coalition (USHSRC) is ramping up the pressure for Congress to carve-out $205 billion from pending federal infrastructure legislation and earmark it for high speed rail throughout the country.
The carve-out would come from either the pending $715 billion Surface Transportation and Water Infrastructure bill that recently passed the House or the bipartisan $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Framework Bill that the Biden Administration is supporting.
The $715 billion infrastructure measure already includes an $11.6 billion allocation for the plan to connect New Jersey and New York’s Penn Station in midtown Manhattan via four modern transportation tubes beneath the Hudson River.
The $205 Billion carve out would include high speed rail that would cut commute times to a little over an hour between cities like Washington to New York, Dallas to Houston, and Los Angeles to Las Vegas.
“The United States is the only major industrial nation that does not have high-speed rail. We are launching this campaign to finally bring high speed rail to the United States,” said USHSRC President Andy Kunz.
The push for high speed rail comes as the USHSRC endorsed a letter from 71 House members and four Senators to the Senate and House leadership in support of the allocation.
Among local Lawmakers signing onto the letter include U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Queens, Bronx), Tom Suozzi (D-Queens, Long Island) and Carolyn Maloney (D-Manhattan, Queens, Brooklyn) and U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).
“With the new administration, we have a generational opportunity to invest in our nation’s infrastructure, and we are grateful for your leadership in ensuring we invest in next generation infrastructure, not just the infrastructure of the past. As negotiations continue to develop around a comprehensive infrastructure package, we write to express our support for the inclusion of dedicated funding to develop international-standard high-speed rail with high-performance connections that feed into a larger network,” the lawmakers wrote.
The lawmakers wrote that a federal commitment to these modern and proven transportation systems will dramatically improve the environment, reduce inequity, and help grow cities and sustain vibrant downtowns across the nation.
“A robust network of high-speed rail corridors with high-performance connections is the best option to dramatically reduce carbon emissions while improving intercity travel. It will be decades before aviation is carbon-free, and electric cars – although vital – will not improve highway speeds,” they wrote.
The lawmakers also pointed out that investing in a high-speed rail network with high-performance rail connections will create direct, good-paying union jobs with labor protections, while enabling long-term economic growth across whole megaregions and providing vital access to opportunity for smaller communities.
“As Congress advances legislation to build back better as a nation, we urge you to create a carve-out for dedicated high-speed rail corridor planning and development grants, which will enable investments in high-speed and high-performance rail,” the lawmakers wrote.
Suozzi, in particular, has been pushing the measure on a local level.
“To travel from New York City to Boston, Massachusetts, travel time would be reduced to 100 minutes. Currently, travel time from New York City to Boston via train averages around four hours,” he said in an earlier release.
“To travel from Jamaica, Queens to New York City, travel time will be reduced to 10 minutes. Currently, travel time from Jamaica, Queens to New York City via train averages around 30 minutes,” Suozzi added.