Thursday, June 04, 2009

White House hosts high-level high speed rail conference

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Vice President Joe Biden joined Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood and state governors at the White House Wednesday at a conference that DOT called "a unique opportunity for state leaders to share their ideas with the Obama Administration about the future of high speed trains in America."

At stake for the states is the allocation of $13 billion as a down payment on "the world-class railroad system" that President Obama has called for. This includes $8 billion in stimulus funds and $5 billion in the President's budget request.

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Secretary La Hood (photo at left) said the Administration is also seeking guidance from "Congress, labor, industry, rail experts from countries with working high speed rail networks, and other key stakeholders."

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Vice President Biden opened the conference with a strong statement on the Administration's dedication to the high speed rail program.

"Everybody knows I’m a big believer in our nation's rail system--I've devoted a big part of my career doing what I can to support it--and I'm proud that this Administration is about to transform that system fundamentally," said Biden (pictured at right).

"Thanks to an $8 billion investment from the Recovery Act, we're going to start building a high speed rail system that will loosen the congestion suffocating our highways and skyways, and make travel in this country leaner, meaner, and a whole lot cleaner," Biden said.