Obama had the right idea, the United States should be concerned that Europe and Asia have all figured out that moving people, goods and services, around cheaply and more conveniently is a good thing. He even said so in the state of the union address. But how is it that the Northeast corridor, the economic engine to all those federal programs gets 2% our of the huge massive $8 billion high speed rail plan? That would be a total of $200 million, of which Connecticut got $40 million. It is almost like Obama took a look at all those New England Democrats and said, I really wish you voted some more Republicans into office.
Overall, I’m pleased that California got $2.35 billion. Building a high speed line between Los Angeles and San Francisco is a great start. California is vital to the success of the US economy. Likewise the $1.1 billion to Chicago in order to create the high speed St. Louis Chicago corridor.
But why is linking Tampa and Orlando worth 1.25 billion? Not enough people get to Disneyworld? Is there any economic output other than tourism and grapefruits coming from Florida these days?
The Northeast corridor between Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York and Boston is the greatest economic corridor in the world. Yet every action and inaction of our government leaders has led to a transportation system that is as painful as possible. Look at the cars that commute to work in the corridor — single drivers in most of them. We have a sea of empty asphalt parking lots surrounding the slow speed train stations we do have and office parks located off highways that are perpetually congested.
Connecticut’s $40 million, is for new track between New Haven and Springfield. Congresscritter Rosa DeLauro hailed it as “…this initiative will be building the infrastructure of the future. These funds have been a long time coming, and I look forward to their arrival and execution. These kinds of projects demonstrate the best realization of ARRA funds: we improve our infrastructure, create jobs, increase our connectivity and productivity, and literally strengthen our nation’s foundations.”
What about expressing some disappointment that the nothing was done for the productivity of the part of the state of Connecticut that actually generates all that productive tax revenue the rest of the state leaches off on? Why isn’t Jim Himes saying that he is disappointed that his district got nothing?
It’s easy to pick on the congresscritters, but let’s focus on where the real problem in the state of transportation within Connecticut is. Governor Rell has dropped the ball in restoring faith in the Coneecticut Department of Transportation. The legislature in Hartford has failed to address transportation infrastructure issue for years. Connecticut can’t compete with the Tampa-orlando corridor because there is absolutely no political leadership in this state that understands anything about how transportation impacts economic development.
Just take a look at Susan Bysiewicz’s latest report on the state of business–”Numbers released recently by my office show that slightly fewer Connecticut businesses shut their doors in 2009 than in 2008, while at the same time, the number of new businesses to start-up in Connecticut was 6.2% lower in 2009 compared to the year before. The numbers were released as part of monthly totals of new business starts and stops compiled by the Secretary of the State’s office. Though the numbers are far from ideal, they do show an economy that has rebounded slightly from the precarious position it was in one year ago.”
Actually no, the numbers show that Connecticut is still sucking wind and sucking at generating job growth. And the answer from Washington DC is clear — they don’t think we’d notice if they shovel cash for high speed rail everywhere else.