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Opinion: Making high-speed rail a national priority

(The following column by Rep. Albio Sires (D-N.J.) appeared on The Hill's website on March 14, 2011.)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — “High speed rail.” The image I associate with those words is a comfortable and smooth ride. The view out the window is a pleasant blur and passengers vary from families to business travelers. The journey concludes sooner than expected, but the destination happens to be somewhere in Europe or Asia. It should be a journey that takes place here in the United States.

Throughout the world, countries have poured substantial resources into high speed rail. Japan opened its first high speed rail line in 1964, and now captures 85% of the air/rail market between Tokyo and Osaka. France opened their first high speed rail line in 1981, and by 2009 had 1,160 miles of high speed rail line. More recently, in 1992, Spain opened its first high speed rail line and by 2003, Spain’s government spending on rail infrastructure surpassed their spending on roads.

During our nation’s prolonged period of economic challenges, it is my goal and the goal of many of my colleagues to create jobs and stimulate the economy. Investing in infrastructure is one of the most sound policy choices to meet this non-partisan objective. Studies estimate that for every $1 billion in infrastructure spending, 18,000 jobs will be created.

The entire column appears at www.TheHill.com.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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