Obama is All Aboard

Stimulus dollars going directly to fast rail projects in Illinois

It would be so continental for Americans to return to train travel.

Year after year, high-speed rail in the U.S. has been a popular idea that never left the station because of a lack of political will, the Chicago Tribune reported today. 

But now there is Obama.

"This is not some fanciful, pie-in-the-sky vision of the future," President Obama said of 10 high-speed rail corridors that have been  selected as high-priority stimulus projects.

"It's happening now."

Included in the government's plan to build rail lines to accomodate 110 m.p.h. trains for city to city is a nine-state Midwestern network that will cover 3,000 miles across the region from a rail hub in Chicago.

The Tribune reports that faster trains passing through Chicago could be operating as soon as 2012 to 2014 to Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., on one corridor and Detroit and Pontiac, Mich., on another.

Friday's Chicagoist posting on the matter outlines other plans included:

Outside of the Chicago hub, nine other corridors have been identified by the federal government as having the most potential for success. Those corridors include include a northern New England line, a line running east to west in New York State, a corridor running laterally through Pennsylvania, a southeast network connecting the District of Columbia to Florida and the Gulf Coast, a Gulf Coast line extending from eastern Texas to western Alabama, a corridor in central and southern Florida, a Texas-to-Oklahoma line, a California line from San Francisco to Los Angeles and a corridor in the Pacific Northwest.

"We are decades behind Europe and Asia in developing high-speed infrastructure, but today marked an exciting, huge step," the paper quotes Rick Harnish, executive director of the Midwest High Speed Rail Association, as saying. "Having a president who fully understands how critical this is to our future is a real game-changer."

American train travel may soon no longer be for seniors only.

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