High-Speed Rail Proponents Underestimate Environmental Impact
On Monday, eight Midwestern governors met in Chicago to sign a memorandum of understanding by which they committed to a widespread effort to vie for stimulus funds that will be used expand high-speed rail systems throughout participating states. The governors of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ohio, and Wisconsin were all signatories.
This policy’s price tag will be in the billions. Leaving aside ideologies about public spending, I want to first evaluate this policy in terms of whether it is viable — whether it can even achieve its stated goals. If a policy cannot even accomplish its stated goals, then peripheral discussions about whether the government should spend money, or whether the price tag is too large, become unnecessary. The primary stated values of high-speed rail policy, as I see them, are: job creation; increasing commuter ease; and, reducing environmental impact.
I would contend that the policy fails its cause in all three, and over the next few days, I will try to evaluate high-speed rail’s viability in protecting the environment, creating jobs, providing economic stimulus, and reducing travel times. Stay tuned.