High-speed rail trains, a mode of transportation America was finally getting serious about, might never leave the station now that Republicans have gained ground nationally.
During the last two years, the federal government made more investments in its burgeoning high-speed rail network than ever before. The Obama administration devoted $8 billion in stimulus funds and billions more in the last two budgets to jump-start construction on targeted projects across the country. Gov. Pat Quinn and Illinois lawmakers relished the opportunity; the Quinn administration applied several times for federal funding to support new projects and the General Assembly established the Illinois High Speed Rail Commission so the state could evaluate best-practices for designing and financing its system going forward. Construction on several routes began earlier this fall.
All of that progress may be for naught. Although the GOP representative slated to chair the House Transportation Committee says he is a strong supporter of bullet trains, he told the AP that he wants to "re-examine" the federal grants already distributed by the president before he allows any more cash to be spent on the initiative. And in neighboring Wisconsin and Ohio, two newly-elected Republican governors have already suggested that they would halt their own projects, thereby disrupting huge chunks of the Midwest rail corridor centered around Chicago. That means they would also cede the immense environmental and economic benefits transit investments in the region promise.