U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood continues to taunt Rick Scott and other state governors who rejected federal high speed rail money recently, writing in The Hill that his phone has been “ringing off the hook” with calls from states expecting to reap economic benefits.
He discusses several selling points, but this one stands out:
Finally, high-speed rail is essential for America’s long-term economic competitiveness. It will tie together rapidly growing metropolitan communities and economies through a safe, convenient and reliable transportation alternative. It will connect 80 percent of Americans within 25 years.
Four decades from now, the United States will be home to 100 million additional people — the equivalent of another California, Texas, New York and Florida. If we settle for roads, bridges and airports that already are overburdened and insufficient, we will fight thickening congestion as we travel from one place to another. If we stand pat, tomorrow’s entrepreneurs will find clogged commercial arteries choking their productivity.
That’s the question Scott has yet to answer. High-speed rail has been billed, among other things, as an alternative to widening Florida’s interstates ad infinitum in the coming decades. If that’s not what he envisions over the long term, then what?
But our roadways and airports are already crowded, near or at capacity every day.
If we refuse to plan ahead, we’re staring at a future where we choke our own economy, where companies can’t move goods or people from place to place, where we can’t compete with other nations.