Obama pushes ahead with high speed rail plan

 

Washington

Undaunted by the looming fiscal crisis, the Obama administration said Thursday that it plans to forge ahead with its signature transportation project, investing billions of dollars in a long-term effort to build a high-speed rail network.

"We're not giving up on high-speed rail," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood testified before a congressional committee. "The president will include funding in his budget. I think we'll get there with public money, but in the absence of that we'll get there with private money."

LaHood's testimony was welcomed by a majority of members who attended the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing, including a number of Republicans who have expressed varying degrees of skepticism about high-speed rail in the past.

Rep. John Mica, R.-Fla., who will step down as committee chairman next month, cautioned that money is tight.

"I have been one of the strongest proponents in Congress of transportation and passenger rail, but in these days of trillion-dollar deficits, we have a responsibility to ensure that the taxpayers' money is wisely invested and that we move forward responsibly with any transportation improvements," Mica said.

GOP support fell short of unanimous, however, with two California Republicans whose districts would be crisscrossed with the first proposed line speaking out against it.

"Maybe it's time to cut our losses and pay down our debt," Rep. Kevin McCarthy told the committee. "I have real doubts about the viability and the cost. Just because we've [already] invested money doesn't mean we have to invest more."

Rep. Jeff Denham, who in June pushed through the House legislation to ban federal spending on high-speed rail in California, questioned the price tag for the concept, in his state and nationwide.

"It would be a fun thing to have," he said, "but can we afford something that would be a fun thing?"

The Obama administration launched the high-speed rail program using about $8 billion in economic stimulus funding. The first project — a $68 billion link between San Francisco and Los Angeles — has yet to break ground. It is projected to take 15 years to complete the 520-mile line.

More than 150 proposals related to the creation of a high-speed rail system have been funded, most of them to link major population areas on the two coasts and in the Midwest.

Concern over whether their states would be left holding the bag if federal funding dried up, Republican governors in Florida, Ohio and Wisconsin rejected federal funding for high-speed rail plans for their states last year.

Bringing that service to the Northeast expeditiously was supported Thursday by two Washington area Democrats — Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D.C., and Rep. Donna Edwards, Md., — who said the administration's long-term goals would benefit if the public saw more immediate progress.

Norton suggested launching a pilot program to garner public support.

"I'm not convinced that we know how to do it because we haven't done it," Norton said. "There will be huge criticism of the administration for having nothing to show for its efforts in five years."

"We need to get started," Edwards said. "I know when the interstates were being built there were areas that didn't want them. Who doesn't want a highway now?"

Sport
German supporters (left) and Argentina fans
world cup 2014Final gives England fans a choice between to old enemies
Arts and Entertainment
Armando Iannucci, the creator of 'The Thick of It' says he has
tvArmando Iannucci to concentrate on US show Veep
Life and Style
Pepper, the 3ft 11in shiny box of circuits who can tell jokes and respond to human emotions
techDavid McNeill tests the mettle of one of the new generation of androids being developed in Tokyo
Arts and Entertainment
A still from the worldwide Dawn of the Planet of the Apes trailer debut
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Four ski officials in Slovenia have been suspended following allegations of results rigging
sportFour Slovenian officials suspended after allegations they helped violinist get slalom place
News
14 March 2011: George Clooney testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during a hearing titled 'Sudan and South Sudan: Independence and Insecurity.' Clooney is co-founder of the Satellite Sentinel Project which uses private satellites to collect evidence of crimes against civilian populations in Sudan
people
Arts and Entertainment
Balaban is indirectly responsible for the existence of Downton Abbey, having first discovered Julian Fellowes' talents as a screenwriter
tvCast members told to lose weight after snacking on set
Life and Style
More than half of young adults have engaged in 'unwanted but consensual sexting with a committed partner,' according to research
tech
Life and Style
A binge is classed as four or more alcoholic drinks for women and five or more for men, consumed over a roughly two-hour period
tech
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SAP Data Migration Consultant

competitive: Progressive Recruitment: My client, a FTSE 100 organisation are u...

Programme Support, Coms, Bristol, £300-350p/d

£300 - £350 per day + competitive: Orgtel: My client, a leading bank, is curre...

Linux Systems Administrator

£33000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly successfu...

(Junior) IT Systems Administrator / Infrastructure Analyst

£28000 - £32000 per annum + pension, 25 days holiday: Ashdown Group: A highly ...

Day In a Page

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

Peace without magnanimity - the summit in a railway siding that ended the fighting
Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

Scottish independence: How the Commonwealth Games could swing the vote

In the final part of our series, Chris Green arrives in Glasgow - a host city struggling to keep the politics out of its celebration of sport
Out in the cold: A writer spends a night on the streets and hears the stories of the homeless

A writer spends a night on the streets

Rough sleepers - the homeless, the destitute and the drunk - exist in every city. Will Nicoll meets those whose luck has run out
Striking new stations, high-speed links and (whisper it) better services - the UK's railways are entering a new golden age

UK's railways are entering a new golden age

New stations are opening across the country and our railways appear to be entering an era not seen in Britain since the early 1950s
Conchita Wurst becomes a 'bride' on the Paris catwalk - and proves there is life after Eurovision

Conchita becomes a 'bride' on Paris catwalk

Alexander Fury salutes the Eurovision Song Contest winner's latest triumph
Pétanque World Championship in Marseilles hit by

Pétanque 'world cup' hit by death threats

This year's most acrimonious sporting event took place in France, not Brazil. How did pétanque get so passionate?
Whelks are healthy, versatile and sustainable - so why did we stop eating them in the UK?

Why did we stop eating whelks?

Whelks were the Victorian equivalent of the donor kebab and our stocks are abundant. So why do we now export them all to the Far East?
10 best women's sunglasses

In the shade: 10 best women's sunglasses

From luxury bespoke eyewear to fun festival sunnies, we round up the shades to be seen in this summer
Germany vs Argentina World Cup 2014: Lionel Messi? Javier Mascherano is key for Argentina...

World Cup final: Messi? Mascherano is key for Argentina...

No 10 is always centre of attention but Barça team-mate is just as crucial to finalists’ hopes
Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer knows she needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

Siobhan-Marie O’Connor: Swimmer needs Glasgow joy on road to Rio

18-year-old says this month’s Commonwealth Games are a key staging post in her career before time slips away
The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

The true Gaza back-story that the Israelis aren’t telling this week

A future Palestine state will have no borders and be an enclave within Israel, surrounded on all sides by Israeli-held territory, says Robert Fisk
A History of the First World War in 100 Moments: The German people demand an end to the fighting

A History of the First World War in 100 Moments

The German people demand an end to the fighting
New play by Oscar Wilde's grandson reveals what the Irish wit said at his trials

New play reveals what Oscar Wilde said at trials

For a century, what Wilde actually said at his trials was a mystery. But the recent discovery of shorthand notes changed that. Now his grandson Merlin Holland has turned them into a play
Can scientists save the world's sea life from

Can scientists save our sea life?

By the end of the century, the only living things left in our oceans could be plankton and jellyfish. Alex Renton meets the scientists who are trying to turn the tide
Richard III, Trafalgar Studios, review: Martin Freeman gives highly intelligent performance

Richard III review

Martin Freeman’s psychotic monarch is big on mockery but wanting in malice