While California appears on track to break ground this summer on a new high-speed-rail system, advocacy groups such as the U.S. High-Speed-Rail Association are continuing their focus on nationwide expansion.
Led by U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, the high-speed-rail association has released a plan that maps out a 17,000 mile national high-speed-rail system that would be built in four phases and be completed by 2030.
The independent, nonprofit group suggests that this new national system will “revitalize our economy, reactivate our manufacturing sector, create millions of jobs, end our oil dependency, reduce congestion, and cut our carbon footprint by epic proportions.”
The group’s plan calls for a three-tiered, integrated rail network. The backbone of the network is the high-speed-rail system, connected to the regional and local rail systems in a seamless network. This network includes regional and commuter rail, metro systems, light rail, streetcars and trams.
According to the group, the map phasing follows the most logical sequence for a national system build out -- starting with the largest cities in the busiest corridors, then expanding to connect those together across the country. The busiest corridors are known as "megaregions" and have been studied extensively by the Regional Plan Association. Their analysis and mapping of the 10 megaregions forms the platform for the development of a national high-speed-rail plan.
Based on this map, starting in Los Angeles, high-speed-rail express lines could potentially move passengers to New York, with stops in Denver and Chicago, in well under 18 hours.
According to LaHood, as cited by Business Insider, the project could link 80 percent of Americans within 25 years, for $500 billion.
Although the high-speed-rail system has been a topic of debate for lawmakers, President Obama has come out in support of the plan, which LaHood said would "jumpstart a new era in American train travel."
"Building a new system of high-speed rail in America will be faster, cheaper, and easier than building more freeways or adding to an already over-burdened aviation system -- and everybody stands to benefit," Obama said in 2009.
Last November, a Sacramento Superior Court judge gave the go ahead for plans to break ground on a $69 billion bullet train railway, which would run across the state of California.
"This keeps us on track," Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed-Rail Authority, said inside the courthouse after the hearing. "It's not a surprise, but obviously you don't know until you get the ruling."
The request was filed by Madera County and local farmers who did not want the first 29-mile stretch of the high-speed railway to run through their Central California properties.