Newly ascendant House Republicans are taking a different tack when it comes to national plans for high-speed rail. At a hearing at Grand Central Terminal in NYC, House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Chairman John Mica (R-Fla.) restated his priorities for the national high-speed rail program. These have been two-fold: 1) Concentrate high-speed rail funds on the dense Northeast Corridor; 2) rely more on private money.
Rep. Bill Schuster (R-Penn.), the chairman of the Subcommittee on Railroads, penned an op-ed in the Hartford Courant calling for investment in the New Haven-Springfield Line:
The 100-mile radius around Hartford is the most densely populated area in the country, and certain areas of I-95 running through Connecticut may be the most congested stretch of interstate in the nation.
Although I believe we must first focus on main rail corridors that make sense, such as the Northeast Corridor, we should also develop additional lines and routes that create increased connectivity to the system and further grow ridership. It strikes me that New Haven-Hartford-Springfield line is exactly such a route, and Congress should take a close look at developing its full potential.
Schuster repeated these themes during a meeting at Union Station in Hartford. The philosophy being pushed by the GOP House Transportation & Infrastructure leadership seems to conflict with the Obama administration’s stated goal to give 80% of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years, as the president said in the State of the Union. It also contrasts with Tea Party conservatives who want deep cuts in government spending, including on rail.