Florida’s Governor has said “no thanks” to federal funding for a high-speed rail line there. In response Maryland’s Governor Martin O’Malley has said he’d be glad for his state to get some of the funds being passed up by the Sunshine State. O’Malley understands the economic and environmental benefits that high-speed rail will bring to his state (about which Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood recently blogged). Now would be a great time to launch a regional effort aimed at connecting metro Washington to a true high-speed rail network.
Indications show that the Northeast Corridor (running from Washington D.C. to Boston) which includes Maryland may now be a serious contender to receive some of the high-speed rail funding. As we and others have argued in the past the NEC is perhaps the most deserving area to get the funding. It is the densest portion of the country and already boasts the highest passenger rail ridership by far. The existing Acela Express is a high-speed line in name only averaging about 75 mph compared to 200 mph throughout much of Europe and Asia.
On Capitol Hill Senators and Representatives from states as varied as North Carolina California and New Jersey are launching a Passenger Rail Caucus that will promote and support the creation of high-speed rail in America. A regional effort aimed at supporting high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor will benefit all of metropolitan Washington.