Congress axes high-speed rail funding

Think the Feds are gonna help California get any closer to high speed rail service in 2012? Fuhgeddaboudit.

Congress yesterday voted to scrap bullet train grants proposed by President Barack Obama for the second straight year. The President wanted us to spend upwards of $53 billion on cutting edge U.S. rail projects over the next six years. Conservative Republicans in the House and Senate aren’t havin’ it.

State planners say that without federal funding sometime soon, the $6 billion in State money already spent on a stretch of track in the Central Valley will be a huge waste. The Golden State needs at least $20 billion more to extend the line to San Jose or San Fernando Valley before any trains could start service, and another $63 billion to complete the project.

Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s railroad subcommittee, and the Transportation Committee’s chairman, Rep. John Mica, R-Fla. both say that the future of high speed rail in the U.S. is in — surprise, surprise — the Northeast rail corridor, connecting Boston, New York, Philadelphia and Washington, and not the national network of trains Obama had in mind.

And so, again, our government chooses to apply regressive thinking to the building of an infrastructure that has the potential to move us forward as a nation. Let’s face it – we can’t afford to catch up with the rest of the world’s public transportation standards. Apparently, there are wiser ways to spend our money.