Democrats, FRA and Secretary of Transportation Still Support High Speed Rail

Democrats on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee spoke out recently over Chairman John L. Mica’s call to refocus passenger rail funding. They continued the support for the Obama administration’s vision for a nationwide high-speed rail program.

“I’m glad this committee wasn’t in charge when the Eisenhower Interstate System was developed,” Rep. Corrine Brown, D-Fla., said at the panel’s hearing on California’s plan to connect Los Angeles with San Francisco via a high-speed rail line. “We’d be a third-world country, too.”

Joseph Szabo, head of the Federal Railroad Administration, suggested that the panel’s own contentiousness is contributing to rising project costs.

“If you want to build it faster, if you want to build it cheaper, you can do that,” Szabo told the committee. But he said the biggest uncertainty driving up costs is “congressional gridlock.”

Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said the House GOP’s opposition would not deter the Obama administration from funding rail projects, which he said remained a top White House priority despite recent legislative setbacks.

“We’re not going to be dissuaded by a few detractors who fail to see the value in high-speed rail,” LaHood said.

Click here to read a related story from Congressional Quarterly.