Washington, D.C., December 9, 2010 – Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced today that the Obama administration was pulling $1.195 billion in American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds out of Wisconsin and Ohio rail projects. The money will be redirected to other states that plan, at least at present, to continue building expensive, unpopular passenger rail lines. Analysts at the Competitive Enterprise Institute applauded Governors-elect John Kasich of Ohio and Scott Walker of Wisconsin, who have stood their ground in the face of intense pressure from the Obama administration.
“Governors-elect Walker and Kasich deserve congratulations for their stance on rail funding,” said Iain Murray, Vice President for Strategy at CEI. “These projects would be a massive waste of taxpayer money and it is to their credit that they had the guts to say so rather than simply taking the DOT’s largesse. Governor-elect Kasich was especially right to call out the ‘rail cult’ that contributes to this continuing wasteful spending.”
CEI experts have long noted that if there is a role for passenger rail in the 21st century, the private sector should take the lead in financing and building these projects. Unfortunately, not only will the current lines proposed by the Obama administration be dependent on indefinite taxpayer support, most have been mislabeled as “high-speed.”
As CEI Land-use and Transportation Policy Analyst Marc Scribner noted, “Neither of these proposed passenger rail corridors would ever have allowed trains to approach speeds to be truly considered high-speed rail, at least by standards common in industrialized nations. Furthermore, it is simply absurd to be pouring more money into low-density corridors when 90 percent of Amtrak’s current rail lines continue to lose money every year. Wisconsinites and Ohioans should be thankful their incoming governors appear willing to support sound, efficient transportation policy that actually enhances mobility in their states, rather than seeking to satisfy labor unions and anti-automobile interests.”
>> Iain Murray and Marc Scribner’s op-ed on high-speed rail in The Cleveland Plain Dealer.