New Orleans GOPer Still Sore at Jindal For Saying No to High-Speed Rail

Louisiana Republican Rep. Anh Cao (R) recently appeared with local Democrats at a press conference urging Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) to reconsider his refusal to support a high-speed rail link between Baton Rouge and New Orleans. But it seems that Cao hasn’t given up on prodding his fellow Republican.

caojpg_ee2c676f4567074e_small.jpgRep. Anh Cao (R-LA) (Photo: Times-Picayune)

"I was thoroughly disappointed when my state failed to file a" final high-speed rail application by the Oct. 2 deadline, Cao said today at a hearing of the House transportation committee’s railroads panel.

Cao called the proposed rail link a potentially "huge economic boost to the region," adding: "We worked very hard to secure support for the project [from] municipal governments as
well as parish governments … at a time when the state does not have
money to do so."

Yet even if Jindal had followed up on his state DOT’s initial plan to link New Orleans with the state capital, Louisiana’s chance of securing a slice of the $8 billion economic stimulus fund for high-speed rail would remain very much up in the air. Lawmakers at today’s hearing directly warned the Federal Rail Administration (FRA) to avoid spreading itself too thin in awarding rail grants.

"I don’t want to see ‘bridges to nowhere’ when it comes to high-speed rail," Rep. Corrine Brown (D-FL) said, referencing the famous Alaskan congressional earmark that would have connected drivers to an island with a population of less than 100.

Rep. Bud Shuster (R-PA), Brown’s fellow senior member on the railroads panel, echoed her concerns. Distributing high-speed rail money to "too many different places," he said, risks diluting the impact of the $8 billion stimulus fund.

Another reality check on the relative limits of $8 billion came from Susan Fleming, physical infrastructure director at the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Fleming reminded the railroads panel that the stimulus law’s high-speed rail fund "represents only a small fraction of the estimated costs for starting or enhancing service on the nation’s 11 federally authorized high speed rail corridors."

  • Stanley Kowalski

    Bridge to nowhere? We don’t have a single line, unless you count Acela.

    We could build two lines anywhere in the South, Mountain West or Midwest for the cost of our wars until Thanksgiving.

  • LEJ

    I’m taking the Sunset Limited to New Orleans Friday. Going to Faulkner House’s event at the Cabildo and Angela King’s Royal Street Gallery’s opening. And food, glorious food. You know I eat lunch on the train even though it is not tops. It is edible and in the company of interesting folk. Once I sang with a lady who sang with Elvis Presley.

    Don’t look to Jindal for too much leadership on this, or anything. He is the lap dog of the GOP, their Lap Dog Millionaire. LEJ

  • Tough to see creating a decent passenger rail connection between one of America’s foremost cities and it’s nearby state capital as “bridge to nowhere.” It’s not even new construction — would be an upgrade of existing freight rail tracks.

    And, naturally, there would have been no guarantees with the application. But that’s the nature of an application. There seem to be broadly two strategic opinions on how the money ought to be used: in concentrated form to get something serious done somewhere; or spread around in order to get more broadly distributed interest in the national HSR project and grease the skids in Congress for greater funding going forward.

    Even if no certainties in the application, Jindal’s rationale didn’t make sense. I know the GOP likes to consider him the next big thing, but he’s honestly kind of a dufus.

    JR

  • Congressman Cao, I’m still angry that four years since Katrina Amtrak has not reinstated the Sunset Limited east of New Orleans. The National Passenger Rail Corp. has become blinded by HSR dollars to the extent that they are allowing the national passenger rail system to fall into disarray.
    You really can’t call it a national system when one is traveling from LA to Orlando by rail you have to make a welter out of New Orleans, up to Washington, then down to Orlando. It is pass time to restore service to the Gulf Coast.

  • Allan

    HSR for 80 miles? That’s a waste of transportation dollars. Let’s establish a regular conventional rail link with speeds up to 110-mph.

    Conventional rail has run up to 100 mph in the past. There’s a great deal of infrastructure difference and cost for trains running at 110 mph than trains running at 150+ mph.

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