Obama Calls for Investment in Regional Intercity Rail

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We noted yesterday that Barack Obama has promised to direct more federal funds to bike-ped infrastructure if elected. Now comes word that the Illinois Senator is going public with his support for a regional rail network linking midwestern cities, an idea he had floated quietly during the Democratic primary campaign.

In a major address on "American competitiveness," Obama pitched intercity rail as an antidote to faltering airlines. Via Matthew Iglesias:

We can invest in rail, so that cities like Detroit, Chicago, Milwaukee and St. Louis are connected by high-speed trains, and folks have alternatives to air travel.

To be sure, the speech — delivered in Flint, Michigan — was also heavy on promises to keep cars rolling off the assembly line. But the mention of rail and a proposal to fund a "National Infrastructure Reinvestment Bank" (reminiscent of Congressman Earl Blumenauer’s stump speech) suggest that a President Obama may steer federal transportation funding, which has long given transit short shrift, in a different direction.

Photo of parlor car in the Illinois Central Railroad, which went defunct in 1999: Prairie Star / Flickr

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