Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

High-Speed Rail Coming to Oklahoma?

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

High-Speed Rail Coming to Oklahoma?

Article excerpt

Only those who have been to Europe or Japan have seen what a real high-speed rail line can do, transportation officials told lawmakers on Thursday. But the federal government is putting up the money to make high-speed rail a reality in the U.S. - maybe even in Oklahoma.

Tulsa and Oklahoma City are the northernmost points on a proposed high-speed rail corridor extending down to Austin and San Antonio, Texas, which has already been approved by federal transportation officials. The U.S. Department of Transportation has approved about a dozen high-speed rail corridors around the country. But with costs of construction extending into the millions or billions for true high-speed rail, few of the projects have progressed beyond the beginning stages.

"No high-speed rail exists yet in the U.S.," Gary Ridley, director of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation, told members of the House Transportation Committee on Thursday. "But there is potential."

High-speed rail refers to passenger trains that operate at speeds exceeding 124 miles per hour. The closest thing to high-speed rail available in the U.S. today is Amtrak's Acela service, running from Washington, D.C., to New York and north to Boston. The trip takes approximately two hours and 46 minutes at an average speed of 86 miles per hour - about half the speed of France's TGV trains.

President Barack Obama has made a few public comments in support of high-speed rail for the U.S. as a means to ease travel congestion while reducing the nation's dependence on oil, cutting pollution and creating jobs.

Included in the $787 billion stimulus plan Obama signed in February was $8 billion for high-speed rail projects across the country, available as grants to states issued on a competitive basis. By June, federal officials are expected to provide guidance to states on how to apply for the funds. …

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