Friday, December 9, 2011

Congressional Hearing on December 15th on California's High-Speed Rail Project: Information

Representative John Mica is the Chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure.  He is a friend of high-speed rail, but opposes the project in California.  On Thursday, December 15, at 10:00 EST (7:00am PST), there will be a House hearing on California's high-speed rail project.  It can be followed on a telecast for which the information is provided, below.

Please see the following web-sites for all the information you need to acquire a background for this important hearing. (Along with a close reading of all the entries on this blog, of course! There are nearly 900 of them.)

A lot of credit goes to the CARRD group, of which Elizabeth Alexis is a member. She will be one of those testifying at the hearing.     <>

This is the announcement by John Mica of the December 15th hearnings in Washington DC

This is the Briefing Memo for the Full Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, headed by Congressman John Mica.

This is the website for the live feed of the Committee

This is a background paper on Congressman John Mica's interest in high-speed rail


The Committee supports developing true high-speed rail service in the United States, but only in areas of the country where it makes sense, and only with significant participation by the private sector.

The Obama Administration launched its High-Speed and Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) Program with the massive stimulus in 2009.  In an attempt to reach the President's unnecessary and unrealistic goal of providing 80% of Americans with access to high-speed rail, the Administration spread the $8 billion in stimulus money too thin over too many projects.  Indeed, of that initial $8 billion, Amtrak hijacked 76 of the 78 projects, none of which were truly high-speed rail projects.  The governors of Ohio, Wisconsin and Florida all rejected major projects that would not have resulted in high-speed service.

Now that nearly all of the stimulus funding has been obligated, the United States will still have no true high-speed rail to show for it.  While the HSIPR Program has received over $10 billion in total federal funding to date, the only project with the potential to be truly high-speed is in California.  The state has received almost $4 billion in HSIPR funding, yet the cost estimate of construction has more than doubled from $43 billion to $98.5 billion and it will take 13 years longer than originally planned.  This project appears to be in disarray.

Recognizing the Administration’s misguided approach in these austere times, Congress has withheld appropriations for the HSIPR Program in fiscal years 2011 and 2012.  The Committee is intent on ensuring the HSIPR Program gets back on track by focusing on areas where high-speed rail can succeed, particularly the Northeast Corridor (NEC).

The Northeast Corridor

The NEC, from Washington, DC through New York and to Boston, is the one region of the United States where high-speed rail makes the most sense and would have the most national benefit.  The heavily congested corridor is densely populated and has well-established transit connections.  Aviation congestion in the New York region's airspace causes delays throughout the entire network, and an effective high-speed rail route would improve air travel as well as highway transportation.  Unfortunately, the Administration's failed high-speed rail plan squandered billions of dollars, and the NEC wasn't even designated a high-speed rail corridor by the Administration until March 2011. 

Amtrak's current service in the NEC averages only 83 mph, and the heavily subsidized passenger rail provider has actually seen ridership in this valuable transportation corridor diminish since 1977 (see chart).  For information on Amtrak's history of mismanagement and waste of the immense potential of the Northeast Corridor, see the Committee's report entitled "Sitting on Our Assets: The Federal Government’s Misuse of Taxpayer-Owned Assets."

"The Competition for Intercity Passenger Rail in America Act”

On June 15, 2011, Transportation and Infrastructure Committee Chairman Mica and Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee Chairman Shuster rolled out a dramatic new plan and new direction to bring competition to high-speed and intercity passenger rail service across the country, including the NEC.  In the NEC, this initiative would require a public-private partnership to develop true high-speed service for the nation’s most congested transportation corridor.  This proposal would bring high-speed rail to the NEC much faster and at significantly lower cost compared to Amtrak's unacceptable 30-year, $117 billion plan.

The Mica/Shuster proposal, the “Competition for Intercity Passenger Rail in America Act,” will also open intercity passenger rail service across to nation to competition in order to attract private sector participation and investment, lower costs for taxpayers, and improve service.

Click here for more information about the “Competition for Intercity Passenger Rail in America Act.”
Click here for a section by section summary of the “Competition for Intercity Passenger Rail in America Act.”
Click here for draft legislative text.
Click here for video of the June 15, 2011 roll out of the “Competition for Intercity Passenger Rail in America Act.” 

As the Committee continues to develop the “Competition for Intercity Passenger Rail in America Act," interested parties should feel free to contact the Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials at (202) 226-0727 with any legislative suggestions for consideration in the final bill.

•December 6, 2011: The Federal Railroad Administration's High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program: Mistakes and Lessons Learned
•June 22, 2011: Legislative Hearing on the committee print, "Competition for Intercity Passenger Rail in America"
•May 26, 2011: Opening the Northeast Corridor to Private Competition for the Development of High-Speed Rail
•March 11, 2011: Finding Ways to Encourage and Increase Private Sector Participation in Passenger Rail Service
•January 27, 2011: Developing True High-Speed Rail to the Northeast Corridor: Stop Sitting on Our Federal Assets
•December 6, 2011: Hearing Highlights Missteps in Administration's High-Speed Rail Program
•June 15, 2011: Mica, Shuster Roll Out High-Speed & Intercity Passenger Rail Plan
•May 26, 2011: Transportation Leaders Propose New Direction for High-Speed Rail
•May 9, 2011: Mica & Shuster Reactions to DOT Rail Funding Announcement
•April 11, 2011: GAO: Obama Stimulus Grants Selected Behind Closed Doors
•March 11, 2011: Mica & Shuster Call for Larger Private Sector Role in Passenger Rail
•February 8, 2011: Mica & Shuster Skeptical of New Obama Rail Spending
•January 27, 2011: Statements of Chairman Mica & Chairman Shuster from Hearing on Northeast Corridor High-Speed Rail
•September 27, 2010: Northeast Rail Commission Urged to Get High-Speed Rail on Track
•May 13, 2010: Mica Joins in Request for GAO Review of Transparency in Stimulus Grants Selection
•February 24, 2010: Mica Requests Information on High-Speed Rail Stimulus Grants Process
•February 4, 2010: Mica Organizes Campaign to Bring High-Speed Rail to the Northeast Corridor
•February 2, 2010: High-Speed Rail Stuck at the Station
•January 28, 2010: High-Speed Rail Plan Lets Amtrak Hijack Congested Northeast Corridor
•January 28, 2010: Mica, Shuster Response to High-Speed Rail Announcement
•October 14, 2009: High-Speed Rail Investments Must Yield Real Results
•April 16, 2009: Mica Commends President’s Support for High-Speed Rail
•February 5, 2009: 80 and Counting Respond to Call for U.S. High-Speed Rail
•December 15, 2008: U.S. High-Speed Rail Effort Launched
•November 19, 2008: Meetings to Outline Agenda for New High-Speed Rail Initiative
•October 16, 2008: President Signs Historic High-Speed Rail Measure
•October 2, 2008: Mica: President to Sign High-Speed Rail Measure
•October 1, 2008: Mica Hails Senate High-Speed Rail Vote as "Historic"
•September 24, 2008: House Votes to Launch Historic High-Speed Rail Initiative and Enhance Rail Safety
•June 11, 2008: Historic Effort to Develop High-Speed Rail in the U.S. Passes House of Representatives
•May 22, 2008: Committee Approves Historic High-Speed Rail Initiative
•May 13, 2008: Mica Presents Historic High-Speed Rail Proposal to Finance Experts
•May 8, 2008: Amtrak Bill Provides Historic Opportunity to Bring High-Speed Rail to U.S.
•March 14, 2008: Bipartisan High-Speed Rail Initiative Introduced in U.S. House
More information regarding the need for true high-speed rail in the United States:
•Mica op-ed: We Must Develop High-Speed Rails for NE Corridor
•Mica op-ed: U.S. Mustn’t Squander High-Speed Rail Funds
•Mica op-ed: High-Speed Rail Can Help Tackle Aviation Congestion
November 20 & 21, 2008 High-Speed Rail Roundtables hosted by Rep. Mica
•March 20, 2007 High-Speed Rail Rountable hosted by Rep. Mica
Information on the 2008 law that includes the Mica proposal to invite private sector participation and help bring true high-speed passenger rail service to the United States:
•Link to the Federal Register notice of DOT’s request of interest in developing high-speed rail, and link to the list of respondents to DOT's request. 
•Link to Public Law 110-432, the legislation that includes Rep. Mica's high-speed rail proposal.
•Link to the language in P.L. 110-432 specifically pertaining to high-speed rail.

House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee
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2165 Rayburn House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-9446
Fax: (202) 225-6782

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