Thursday, June 18, 2009

Bipartisan support for HSR in VA

So last night I was flipping channels and happened to see Mayor Dwight Jones speaking at a Main St. Station press conference. I saw Eric Cantor over his right shoulder, and Bobby Scott over his left shoulder. He was going on and on about this and that, and I gathered after a while the point was they were all there to pay lip service to high speed rail.

I didn't know about any press conference in recent days, so I googled it this morning and realized it was taped April 24th. I found this letter to Ray LaHood posted at Congressman Scott's website:


Letter to Secretary LaHood:

April 23, 2009

Ray LaHood, Secretary
U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave, SE
Washington, DC 20590

Secretary LaHood:

We write to you today to support the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) inclusion of the Southeast Rail Corridor in the Department of Transportation’s (DOT) recent announcement of a High-Speed Rail Strategic Plan. As you may know, the existing rail between Washington, D.C. and Richmond, Virginia is of great economic importance throughout our region and we commend DOT’s prompt attention towards establishing final guidance for competitive grants to improve this corridor.

The Richmond area is a major economic hub in the Commonwealth of Virginia - home to seven Fortune 500 companies, over 20,000 small businesses, and rated 7th on the Forbes list of top 200 “Best Places for Business and Careers.” There is no doubt that proximity to our nation’s capital plays a major role in the success of our region. Each year, over 5.7 million people visit the Richmond area, generating $1.8 billion for our local economy. However, the transportation corridor between Washington, D.C. and Richmond is widely known as one of the most congested transportation corridors in the country.

High-speed rail provides a sensible and viable solution to our region’s transportation challenges. It is estimated that creating a high-speed railway through Virginia will generate as many as 185,500 jobs, as much as $21.2 billion in economic development, and pull nearly 6.5 million cars off the road annually. Providing a high-speed rail service from Washington, D.C. to Richmond will drive economic development throughout our region for many years to come.

Private industry has demonstrated an overwhelming interest to partake in high-speed rail, best gauged by a request for proposals, required by the Railroad Safety Enhancement Act of 2008 (P.L. 110-432), which required DOT to seek projects for the financing, design, construction, operation, and maintenance of a high-speed intercity passenger rail system operating within Federally designated high-speed rail corridors. We applaud FRA’s efforts to build on this recent undertaking.

As you continue to establish final guidance for a competitive bidding process for high-speed rail projects, we wish to call your attention to the importance of a Washington, D.C. to Richmond line. We believe it is truly an investment in our economic future.


Rep. Bobby Scott Rep. Eric Cantor
Members of Congress


So for once Eric Cantor does something that isn't shameless partisan political theater, but instead bipartisan political theater. Money talks, and frankly I will be stunned if Cantor actually supports HSR with real dollars in the coming years.

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