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High Speed Rail: Valparaiso Indiana Conference May 12

May 11, 2011 by · 5 Comments 

High Speed Rail is in the news again this week as important developments in Washington and around the Northwest Indiana region take place.

Valparaiso University Hosts High Speed Rail Symposium, Thursday, May 12th

The Indiana High Speed Rail Association will hold it’s 12th Annual Golden Spike Seminar, Thursday, May 12 at Valparaiso University. This is a public policy forum, lobbying effort and outreach; and is open to the public. It is an all-day event beginning with 7:30am breakfast, with various speakers and events being held throughout the day, detailing different aspects of this important transportation infrastructure. Click the link for speakers list and to make reservations.

US Department of Transportation Re-Divides Stimulus Funds

HiSpeedRailCorridorsBySteveCardwellAs was previously discussed in this column, the US Department of Transportation made good on it’s promise to re-distribute HSR stimulus funds to states to improve their rail infrastructure. High speed rail is a process where railroads need to improve tracks, crossings, and signalling systems from the current 70 MPH capability to the next level of 110MPH.  Higher speed thresholds will be developed later as we improve our standards to ones approaching those of European and Asian systems.  Prototypes are being tested with speeds beyond 300MPH. Since the US is so far behind, it will take great political will to find funds for these projects. And with so many other needs, and austerity on the minds of State and Federal politicians, this “simple” transit upgrade project has become political football.

As we reported, States not willing to provide matching funds to the Obama stimulus money offered, would be cut out of this round of grants. Florida and Wisconsin refused, so the DOT has re-cut the pie, giving more money to Michigan. Now Wisconsin is having second thoughts about their hard line on the matter, so we will have to wait-and-see how it plays out. The goal of a Minneapolis to Cleveland route, and Chicago to Indy, make our participation an important element of the big picture.

HSR_Amtrak3_By Steve CardwellSince this represents a classic progressive vs regressive political debate, Presidential candidate Daniels has to watch his step in this political minefield. Those of the Tea Party, we-can’t-afford-anything philosophy see HSR as a big-government boondoggle which will cost trillions and eventually end in failure. On the other hand, more progressive types see HSR, and rail in general, as a critical and long neglected transit element where the US lags far behind the rest of the world. Proponents say that with greener fuel economy attributes than cars, trucks, and planes, 21st Century rail technology enthusiasts are urging lawmakers to join the movement. Can HSR reduce fuel-guzzling regional air traffic and highway miles? Many other countries have said yes, but Americans seem to be saying “not so fast”

With Governor Daniels still on the fence, Indiana remains in limbo. The Governor has tepidly endorsed HSR publicly, however sources tell me he has not requested the DOT funds either; far from a ringing endorsement. As he tiptoes under the microscope of a national spotlight Daniels seems wanting to have it both ways; enjoying the credit and  glow from building stuff,  but prefers that others foot the bill.

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Steve Cardwell

Steve Cardwell is an Indiana Realtor working with residential buyers and sellers throughout Northwest Indiana. He likes to stay current on the housing market by analyzing real estate trends with a focus on the towns of Highland and Munster Indiana. His broker affiliation is Red Key Realty Leaders in St John, Indiana. Learn more about Steve and visit www.SteveCardwell.com.

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Comments

5 Responses to “High Speed Rail: Valparaiso Indiana Conference May 12”
  1. Rail transport will fast become big portion of Indiana future economy. As long as politicians allow it to be planned, built, and coordinated with a systems approach.

  2. High speed rail in Northwest Indiana is still a pipe dream. Instead of chasing a rebuilding project, why not infuse dollars directly into the existing businesses that support our region. This would have immediate impact. But whom am I but one rationale voice.

  3. Jim Sims says:

    Where would these rails be built?

  4.  Presently they run on existing tracks which are optimized for the higher speeds. Sharing freight & passenger is another complicated issue since freight pays the bills here but it’s a different revenue mix where the fast trains represent more folks commute. The Japanese bullet trains, for instance,  run on separate tracks without freight interference that could affect schedules and cause safety problems. The US is a long way from that point so we share the road. I will be reporting on the Indiana Gateway, a large rail project proposed for Porter Indiana in a future post.

  5.  Transportation is one of our larger sectors and one that is growing. Smokestack industry and metal bending are on the decline. Steel is a commodity that we have seen can be produced in lower cost countries when the labor and energy costs are properly tabulated. A better  balanced mix of industries has affected both the economy and quality of life here.

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