DOT Expands Funding For Studies on U.S. Maglev Corridors; How much longer can they keep doing these planning studies?
Projects in Georgia, Pennsylvania get millions; Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Baltimore still waiting to hear.
One clear demonstration of the United States’ lack of coherent national transportation policy objectives is its approach to funding magnetic levitation train projects. Rather than making a decision about what to fund, the Congress occasionally appropriates a relatively small pot of money, then the DOT distributes cash for planning studies. Nothing ever gets off the ground. That, at least, is how it has worked since 1999, when the DOT first awarded $12 million in planning funds to seven proposed projects in California, Nevada, Louisiana, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. By 2001, the agency announced it would pick either a line between Baltimore and Washington or one connecting Pittsburgh and its suburbs for almost $1 billion in construction dollars, eventually deciding on the latter. By 2005, however, all funds had been cut off by an uncommitted congress, despite the fact that $62 million had already been distributed; meanwhile, states and municipalities had contributed virtually nothing to the projects. Maglev seemed dead.
The news this month that Atlanta and Pittsburgh have received more planning funds — $14 million for the former and $28 million for the latter — and that other projects funded back in 1999 may once again get appropriations in the coming days seems like a continuation of this destructive cycle. If so, these dollars are nothing more than a waste of money, because there is little chance that funds for actual construction will ever appear. Yet the Congress devoted $90 million maglev two years ago, knowing that actually getting big-budget funds for the projects’ completion from Washington would be almost impossible. Nor has there ever been a concerted effort by either Congress or the Department of Transportation to show why maglev projects should be funded at all.
Click here to read the entire article.