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Unformatted text preview: jects and improve service in 13 corridors across the
country. Obama and Vice President Joe Biden traveled to Tampa, Fla., to announce the projects,
which include the construction of an 84-mile high-speed track from Tampa to Orlando.
"We want to start looking deep into the 21st century and say to ourselves, There's no reason why
other countries can build high-speed rail lines and we can't," Obama told a crowd in a University of
Tampa arena. "Right here in Tampa, we're building the future."
That's a nice sentiment, but America's antiquated rail system will have to advance a long way just to
make it to the present, let alone the future. U.S. intercity railroads are a laughingstock compared with
those in most other developed nations — and, increasingly, even those in developing nations like
China, which is investing more than $300 billion to build more than 16,000 miles of high-speed track
Today you can travel the 250 miles from Paris to Lyon on the high -speed TGV in two hours. Covering
a similar distance from Philadelphia to Boston takes some five hours, and that's on an Amtrak Acela
train, the closest thing the U.S. has to high-speed rail. "Every other major industrialized nation has
recognized that high-speed rail is key to economic growth and mobility," says Petra Todorovich,
director of the America 2050 program at the Regional Planning Association. "It's time for America to
realize that as well."
When the White House announced last spring that it would allocate billions of stimulus dollars to high speed-rail projects, states submitted 45 applications for more than $50 billion in aid. In the end, the
Federal Railroad Administration decided to distribute $8 billion in funding to 31 states, with the
biggest single grants going to California ($2.3 billion) and Florida ($1.3 billion).
But whatever the public's vision of a sparkling new 150-m.p.h. bullet train like those in Japan and
Europe, the reality is that not all, or even most, of the stimulus money will go toward creating entirely
new rail service. Instead, much of the initial funding will be spent improving and speeding up existing
27 | P a g e High Speed Rail Affirmative BDL In Florida, however, the money will in fact help build a new stretch of track between Tampa and
Orlando, which will allow trains to travel at speeds up to 168 m.p.h. It is the first leg of an intercity
corridor that is expected to continue southward to Miami.
Demographically, Florida is an ideal state in which to launch the rail projects. Together, the metro
areas of Tampa and Orlando are a major economic unit, home to more than 3.4 million people and
close enough on the map to make high-speed rail competitive with air and auto travel. The region is
also a tourist hub, which makes it likely that a Tampa-Orlando rail line will be well-used by Americans
from around the country. That makes it a smart advertisement for other high -speed-rail projects back
in their home regions.
Florida's project is also an optimal test case, having already been approved by the sta...
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This document was uploaded on 02/06/2014.
- Spring '14