To give readers a clue as to how far behind the rest of the world the US is in terms of rail infrastructure, here is a map of all the high-speed routes in the US:
Traditionally, the automobile lobby works hard to discourage rail infrastructure and ensure that highway funding gets preference. But this time, they are too busy restructuring with bailout money to sink an idea whose time has come.
Even so, Obama had to slip in rail funding at the last minute:
The $787.2 billion economic recovery bill — to be signed by President Barack Obama on Tuesday — dedicates $8 billion to high-speed rail, most of which was added in the final closed-door bargaining at the instigation of White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel.
It’s a sum that far surpasses anything before attempted in the United States — and more is coming. Administration officials told Politico that when Obama outlines his 2010 budget next week, it will ask for $1 billion more for high-speed rail in each of the next five years.