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Think Out Loud

High Speed Momentum

Pete Springer/OPB

President Barack Obama has been an aggressive supporter of connecting the country via high-speed rail. As recently as Feb. 8, he proposed a $53 billion commitment to connect 80 percent of the country via high-speed rail in the next six years. Obama requested an initial $8 billion investment in high-speed rail as part of the 2012 budget plan released Feb. 14.

As we discussed on a previous show, the Pacific Northwest Corridor is one of 10 regions competing for federal funds. Since then, Washington started work on some high speed rail projects, using the $782 million in federal funds it was awarded in January 2010.

Last Wednesday, Florida Governor Rick Scott joined Ohio and Wisconsin governers in rejecting billions in federal funds for high speed rail. The money would have gone towards high speed rail projects to connect Tampa and Orlando, the two biggest cities in Central Florida.

Critics point out that the US version of high speed rail wouldn’t exactly be a bullet train like Japan’s Shinkansen and Shanghai’s Maglev that can reach speeds over 200 mph. In urban areas, they say, so-called high speed trains might cruise along at 90 mph.

Proposals for a high speed train connecting Portland to Eugene have ruffled some feathers along the proposed route. Some Lake Oswego residents argue that it doesn’t make sense to have high speed rail running through their community. The neighborhood association is asking elected officials to slow things down.

How would faster public transit affect you? Do you live or work along the proposed route? Are you a commuter? Are you passionately for or against the development of high speed rail linking Eugene to Vancouver, BC?  Why?


  • Ed Schops: Daily rail commuter from Salem to Portland and senior account supervisor for Edelman
  • Shelley Lorenzen: Vice chair of the North Country Club/North Shore Neighborhood Association
  • Bruce Agnew: Policy director of the Discovery Institute’s Cascadian Center
  • Betsy Imholt: Operations manager for the Oregon Department of Transportation rail division
  • Aaron Sharockman: Staff writer for the St. Petersburg Times
  • Dave Rosenfelt: Executive director of Oregon State Public Interest Research Group
  • John Charles: President and CEO of Cascade Policy Institute
economy environment high speed rail transportation

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