Thursday, January 27, 2011
Press Release

Building America’s Future Chairmen Bloomberg and Rendell Testify for Developing High-Speed Rail for the Northeast Corridor in Congressional Hearing

Bloomberg and Rendell ask “What is America Waiting For?”

NEW YORK, NY— Today, Building America’s Future co-chairs Mayor Michael Bloomberg and former governor Ed Rendell were among witnesses to testify at the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hearing on the importance of developing true high-speed rail for the Northeast Corridor.

Mayor Bloomberg said, “It is appropriate that this hearing is taking place in Grand Central . Like the Erie Canal, the transcontinental railroad, and the interstate highway system, it’s a monument to our nation’s tradition of dreaming big and investing in our future. Together, those transportation networks opened up new markets and made us the globe’s economic superpower.

“But that was a long time ago. Today, our nation invests just over two percent of our GDP in infrastructure. Meanwhile, Europe invests at twice that rate and China at almost three times it.  In 2007, I visited Shanghai. I landed at the airport and got on a magnetic levitation train capable of traveling at 250 miles per hour. Other countries in Asia, Europe and the Middle East are building bullet trains too. So what is America waiting for?

“What we need is a new approach to spending transportation money – one that’s not dictated by politics, but based on economics. We might not get all the routes we want, but we will get the high-speed trains we need.”

Mr. Rendell reiterated the call for true high-speed rail by saying, “The construction of a state-of-the-art high-speed rail system should be the defining transportation initiative of the 21st century.

“While there are incremental improvements we must make to our current rail system, in the end we must do much more. If all we wind up with is upgrading our existing 19th century rail technology, while our economic competitors forge ahead with 21st century rail systems, then we will not have succeeded in creating the kind of transformational change President Obama, members of Congress and so many others have envisioned,” continued Rendell.

Statistics outlined for the committee’s chair U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL) by the Mayor and Rendell included:

  • High-speed is estimated to generate more than $7 billion in economic activity and create 100,000 new jobs by 2040.
  • The Northeast region is home to a $2 trillion economy, 162 Fortune 500 companies, seven of the world’s top 20 research universities and 55 million people.
  • Three of the nation’s busiest airports (LaGuardia, JFK and Newark) are located within 25 miles of each other and approximately one-third of the departing flights have destinations within 500 miles. The need for short-haul flights, such as these, would decrease with high speed rail and open opportunities for more profitable domestic flights.
  • The Northeast Corridor moves more than 259 million passengers and 14 million car-miles of freight per year.

BAF was influential in supporting the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) in 2009 that helped states and cities repair, maintain, and build infrastructure, including highways, transit systems, tunnels, bridges, water systems, high speed rail, broadband and more. The BAF believes this was an important first step and that more must be done to fund critical infrastructure needs around the country, pass a reformed, robust six-year transportation bill, and establish a National Infrastructure Bank to invest in the most worthy projects.

President Obama affirmed his commitment to developing high-speed rail in his 2011 State of the Union by setting a goal of giving 80 percent of Americans access to high-speed rail within 25 years.

About Building America’s Future

Founded in January 2008 by Governor Edward Rendell of Pennsylvania, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger of California, and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York, BAF boasts a politically and regionally diverse membership of state and local elected officials from across the nation.  BAF seeks to advance a new national vision for infrastructure investment that strengthens our cities and rural communities, and focuses on economic growth and global competitiveness, creation of economic opportunity for all Americans, and environmental sustainability.  In addition, BAF embraces a wide definition of infrastructure - from roads and bridges to water and sewer systems, energy systems, buses, trains, ports, airports, levees, dams, schools and housing.

This press release can be downloaded here.

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