Maglev high speed trains are coming to Birmingham. In a proposal by the Obama Administration high speed trains will connect Atalanta, New Orleans, Houston, and Birmingham in the Gulf Coast Corridor.
According the Federal Railroad Administration the “vision is to transform the nation’s transportation system, by rebuilding existing rail infrastructure while launching new high speed passenger rail services in 100-600 mile corridors that connect U.S. communities. Similar to how interstate highways and U.S. aviation system were developed in 20th century: partnership between public sector and private industry, including strong Federal leadership that provided a national vision”.
The proposal was released yesterday (April 17, 2009) and by no means definite. Funds have been allocated to the tune of $8 Billion initially and $1 Billion annually over the next five years. These funds are considered a down payment on what is surely to require many more Billions of dollars from state and local governments. First round Federal Grants are expected to be awarded by the end of Summer 2009.
Obama’s administration is promising a transparent approach in development and outlines what appears to be a three phase plan to implement based on merit and benefits.
- First round of applications will focus on projects that can be completed quickly and yield measurable, near-term job creation and other public benefits.
- Next round to include proposals for comprehensive high-speed programs
covering entire corridors or sections of corridors.
- Additional funds will be available for planning to help jump-start corridors not yet ready for construction.
Ten Major Corridors have been Identified.
- California Corridor (Bay Area, Sacramento, Los Angeles, San Diego)
- Pacific Northwest Corridor (Eugene, Portland, Tacoma, Seattle, Vancouver BC)
- South Central Corridor (Tulsa, Oklahoma City, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, San Antonio, Little Rock)
- Gulf Coast Corridor (Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Birmingham, Atlanta)
- Chicago Hub Network (Chicago, Milwaukee, Twin Cities, St. Louis, Kansas City, Detroit, Toledo, Cleavland, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Louisville)
- Florida Corridor (Orlando, Tampa, Miami)
- Southeast Corridor (Washington, Richmond, Raleigh, Charlotte, Atlanta, Macon, Columbia, Savannah, Jacksonville)
- Keystone Corridor (Philadelphia, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh)
- Empire Corridor (New York City, Albany, Buffalo)
- Northern New England Corridor (Boston, Montreal, Portland, Springfield, New Haven, Albany)
Also, opportunities exist for the Northeast Corridor (Washington, Baltimore, Wilmington, Philadelphia, Newark, New York City, New Haven, Providence, Boston) to compete for funds for improvements to the nation’s only existing high-speed rail service, and for establishment and upgrades to passenger rail services in other parts of the country.
The proposed high speed rail system is intended for immediate economic relief creating new jobs, specifically in the construction and manufacturing sector. Proposals have also been made that this system will be a green system. A date for breaking ground on the project was not proposed in the announcement. Planning and funding application time line goes through February of 2009. So the immediate impact on Middle-class workers isn’t likely until years to come.
From the Federal Railroad Administration on the Gulf Coast Corridor:
Major Cities: Houston, New Orleans, Mobile, Meridian, Birmingham, Atlanta
Overview: The designated Gulf Coast Corridor would use New Orleans as its hub, with three spokes reaching (1) Houston, (2) Mobile, and (3) Birmingham and Atlanta. At Atlanta, the Gulf Coast Corridor would connect with the Southeast Corridor to Charlotte, Richmond, Washington, and Northeast Corridor points. At present, no corridor-type intercity rail service operates in this corridor, although Louisiana has been working with Amtrak and the Kansas City Southern to initiate a commuter service between New Orleans and Baton Rouge. The FRA has made study grants to the Southern High-Speed Rail Commission (SHSRC, formerly known as the Southern Rapid Rail Transit Commission), which comprises appointees of the three member states (Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama).
Status: Current activity includes a Baton Rouge to New Orleans conceptual engineering study and a New Orleans gateway rail improvement project.
For Further Reading on the High Speed Rail system from the Federal Railroad Administration:
Other News articles: