Obama Calls for Investment in Regional Intercity Rail

illinois_central.jpg

We noted yesterday that Barack Obama has promised to direct more federal funds to bike-ped infrastructure if elected. Now comes word that the Illinois Senator is going public with his support for a regional rail network linking midwestern cities, an idea he had floated quietly during the Democratic primary campaign.

In a major address on "American competitiveness," Obama pitched intercity rail as an antidote to faltering airlines. Via Matthew Iglesias:

We can invest in rail, so that cities like Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis are connected by high-speed trains, and folks have alternatives to air travel.

To be sure, the speech — delivered in Flint, Michigan — was also heavy on promises to keep cars rolling off the assembly line. But the mention of rail and a proposal to fund a "National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank" (reminiscent of Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s stump speech) suggest that a President Obama may steer federal transportation funding, which has long given transit short shrift, in a different direction.

Photo of parlor car in the Illinois Central Railroad, which went defunct in 1999: Prairie Star / Flickr

ALSO ON STREETSBLOG

In Defense of High-Speed Rail

|
Today on the Streetsblog Network, we’ve got a post from Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic on the importance of funding both intercity and intracity rail, despite limits on the amount of money available. Freemark takes on the argument that investment in transportation within cities should trump the construction of more efficient rail connections between […]

Obama Dismisses Gas Tax “Gimmick”

|
With primaries in North Carolina and Indiana less than a week out, Barack Obama seems to have taken Streetsbloggers’ advice with this ad explaining why a suspension of the federal gas tax, as called for by Hillary Clinton and John McCain (among others), is a sham. It’s a masterful spot: the swelling orchestral score, the […]

Tell the Highway Lobby About ’09 Transpo Spending

|
Not to be outdone, the road-building lobbyists at the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) have launched their campaign to influence federal transportation spending priorities over the next year, including the 2009 TEA package. Last week, while encouraging team Obama to incorporate highway construction into its economic stimulus plan, AASHTO rolled out […]

Rail Across America

|
You’ve probably seen this already. It’s the latest graphic representation of the nation’s proposed high-speed rail corridors, and it’s been all over the transportation blogosphere since President Obama stood beside it at a press conference yesterday. Those corridors are likely to change somewhat as the administration refines its new strategy for high-speed rail, says Transport […]

Obama Builds Rail Cred With Biden Pick

|
Barack Obama’s standing as an advocate for investment in US commuter rail looks to have gotten a boost with his selection of Joe Biden as his running mate. Whereas John McCain is the Senate’s sworn enemy of Amtrak, his colleague from Delaware is known as a "Champion of the Rails." Notes Daily Kos diarist MissLaura […]

Obama Endorses Pricing as “Thoughtful and Innovative”

|
Last month Barack Obama released details of a vaguely encouraging transportation platform, pledging investment in rail and "livable communities." Today the Democratic presidential candidate endorsed congestion pricing. In town for a speech and fundraising events, Obama was introduced at Cooper Union by Mayor Bloomberg this morning. WNYC reports: Speaking not far from Wall Street, Barack […]