TagDepartment of Transportation

It’s official: U.S. DOT takes away Wisconsin’s high-speed rail money

UPDATE 12-13-10: Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic explains that the governors-elect of Wisconsin and Ohio have caused Florida to receive all the necessary funding to build its Tampa to Orlando link, but also which barriers might still stand in the way. Also check out the comments on that page to read about the backlash in Wisconsin and Ohio because of the lost opportunities.

And gives some to Illinois!

Transportation Nation has the press release from the United States Department of Transportation (secretary Ray LaHood) describing who will get $1.195 billion in ARRA funding for high-speed rail projects.

A tinny portion will stay in Wisconsin to support the Hiawatha line, a key route between Milwaukee and Chicago with growing ridership. Illinois began using its ARRA grants to build new track on the Chicago-St. Louis right.

San Francisco Mayor, Gavin Newsom, and DOT secretary Ray LaHood, attend the groundbreaking of the Transbay Transit Center, expected to be the peninsula terminus of the California High-Speed Rail network. Read more about the first segment of that project. Photo taken in August 2010.

Who else gets some of that? These states:

California: up to $624 million
Florida: up to $342.3 million
Washington State: up to $161.5 million
Illinois: up to $42.3 million
New York: up to $7.3 million
Maine: up to $3.3 million
Massachusetts: up to $2.8 million
Missouri up to $2.2 million
Wisconsin: up to $2 million for the Hiawatha line
Oregon: up to $1.6 million
North Carolina: up to $1.5 million
Iowa: up to $309,080
Indiana: up to $364,980

Another case for integrating biking and transit

Integrating biking and transit can reduce a user’s transportation costs.

A friend just instant messaged me to describe his “bike instead of transit” commute,

“I spent $440 on Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) this year and $300 on bike stuff. When I was just taking the CTA it was $1032 per year. I used to have the monthly pass deducted from my paycheck, $86 per month. Now I pay as a I go, and I go much less.”

In some places, and for other people’s situations, commuters could bike TO the train or bus and reduce their costs by eliminating a transfer. Transit also lengthens a bike rider’s possible trip distance when they combine the modes. In this sense, providing services or facilities for people riding bikes attracts new customers or maintains relationships with existing customers.

The Department of Transportation is now funding projects that improve bicycling (and walking) connections to bus and train stations. We should continue focusing on expanding and improving our bikeway networks by connecting them with our transit networks. By doing so, we make each system more robust and give people more options to choose the route that’s best for them.

Boarding northbound Caltrain at Palo Alto University Avenue station.

Some buses can hold three bikes (see Seattle and Silicon Valley). Highway 17 Express bus Santa Cruz bound at San Jose State University stop. Photos by Richard Masoner.

November snow

November snow photo by the Washington State Department of Transportation (WsDOT).

I rode this train, the Amtrak Cascades, from Portland to Seattle, but in April 2010. I would love to go back and ride it again, through the snow this time. It looks so beautiful.

I commend the Washington State Department of Transportation for its good presence on social media and social networking websites. I’m tracking where other DOTs are online.

Who wants to give up high-speed rail

UPDATED: 11/16/10 and 11/19/10 to include new reports from Journal-Sentinel about Walker’s campaign contributions and to reorder the timeline (now in chronological order) and news about North Carolina.

The Governors-elect of Wisconsin (Scott Walker) and Ohio (John Kasich) made it clear during their campaigns that they would put an end to current or upcoming high-speed rail construction paid for mostly by competitive grants from the Department of Transportation.

Illinois was the first state to start high-speed rail construction using federal stimulus money. Photo taken just outside of Springfield, right before IDOT announced the first phase of track construction (from Alton to Springfield) is complete and phase two should have begun yesterday, Monday (from Springfield to Lincoln).

Because of their stance, and because Secretary Ray LaHood has made it clear that Wisconsin’s $810 million and Ohio’s $400 can only be used for high-speed rail, the news changes daily. Here’s the latest in the chronology that’s happened in the past two weeks:

LaHood is laying on the pressure that high-speed rail will happen, but perhaps not in Wisconsin, if Walker has his way.

*3C stands for Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus.

Two Amtrak trains waiting to depart Chicago Union Station (CUS) in May 2010. Photo by Eric Pancer.

Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C., is where laws and funding decisions are made that affect our daily lives. We would be smart to pay attention to news that comes from here.

Photo by Jonathan Maus of BikePortland.org. “Gary Fisher telling US DOT Sec. Ray LaHood (and I paraphrase), ‘Look at this turnout… look at all these people here supporting bikes!’ “

Yesterday, Ray LaHood (Secretary of the Department of Transportation), fresh from his “tabletop speech” at the National Bike Summit, announced a big change in federal transportation funding and project selection policy.

The United States DOT says in “Policy Statement on Bicycle and Pedestrian Accommodation Regulations and Recommendations” that the recommended actions were created based on already existing law and regulations.

I hope this policy change has the authority of your mom telling you not to eat cookies because she made them for a neighbor – and if you do get a couple, you’ll see the consequences in the form of a wooden spoon.

Why should we be “Collecting data on walking and biking trips”? Well, we might get the wooden spoon if we don’t, but “Communities that routinely collect walking and bicycling data are able to track trends and prioritize investments to ensure the success of new facilities.”

The document does remind readers that the Secretary (or more likely, his designee, a project reviewer) “has the authority to withhold approval for projects that would negatively impact pedestrians and bicyclists under certain circumstances.”

Found via Active Transportation Alliance. More photos.

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