All aboard! It was announced on January 28 that California, Florida, Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina and Washington have been given the green light to start construction on high-speed railways that will cut down travel time and make traveling from city-to-city, or even city-to-state, much more accessible -- in a fashion similar to the bullet trains in Japan and Europe.
"Through the Recovery Act, we are making the largest investment in infrastructure since the Interstate Highway System was created, putting Americans to work rebuilding our roads, bridges, and waterways for the future," said President Obama in a White House Statement.
California, which received one of the biggest grants from the Federal Railroad Administration, is expected to have 220 mph trains by 2020 at a total cost of $42 billion dollars. The trains will connect San Francisco to San Jose; Los Angeles and Anaheim; Fresno and Bakersfield; and and the Central Valley farming communities of Merced and Fresno. Florida received $1.25 billion and plans to have its 84-mile, Tampa-to-Orlando trains on line by 2014. The trains will connect to cities in less than an hour at speeds of up to 168 mph.
Illinois plans to have its high-speed lines run from Chicago to St. Louis, Mo., cutting travel time from 5 1/2 hours to 4 hours. The trains would be shooting along at speeds of 110 mph and cost about $400 million, but another $823 million will go to a new train service that connects Chicago to Madison, Wis. A line will also connect to Detroit, Mich. which comes with a price tag of $244 million.
North Carolina and Virginia were granted $620 million to upgrade their 90 mph trains to 110 mph trains which connects Charlotte and Raleigh. Washington and Oregon received $598 million to install 150 mph trains connecting their two largest cities.
Although most of the attention has been given to the West, the Northeast and parts of the South have not been totally ignored. Collectively, the Northeast Region will only get $485 million to upgrade and repair current Amtrak systems. Iowa and Texas will also receive money to improve their railways.
The high-speed rails system is one of the largest planned projects in the United States in recent history. If executed correctly, it can change the way people travel in America. Although huge amounts of money will be spent, it will be exciting to watch the system take shape, making it easier for people to commute as well as creating jobs, as well as an entire new industry.
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