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American Jobs Act would create thousands of rail and HSR jobs, LaHood says


President Obama’s American Jobs Act would create thousands of railroad jobs across the country through investment in transportation infrastructure, including high-speed rail (HSR), U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood told thousands of railroad industry representatives yesterday at the Railway Interchange 2011 conference in Minneapolis.

LaHood called on the rail industry to back Obama’s proposal, which contains $50 billion in immediate federal investments for transportation, including $4 billion for HSR corridors. The president’s bill also proposes $9 billion for public transportation, $2 billion for intercity passenger-rail services and $5 billion for the multimodal Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery and Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act programs.

In addition, the bill calls for creating a national infrastructure bank and enhance infrastructure-related job training opportunities for small businesses.

The Jobs Act would play a key role in Obama’s plan to build a high- and higher-speed intercity passenger-rail network that would reach 80 percent of Americans. If passed, the act would “create thousands of jobs and lay or maintain 4,000 miles of track,” LaHood said.

“We've got tracks that need to be laid and trains that need to be manufactured,” he said. “We've got more than 1 million unemployed construction workers ready to get to work on job sites. … Congress needs to take action now and needs to pass the American Jobs Act today.”

Just as construction of a U.S. interstate highway system spurred economic development over the past 50 years, so would the construction of an intercity HSR system, LaHood said.

“Today, 30 rail companies have pledged that if selected [to build and operate] high-speed rail [in the U.S.], they will hire American workers,” he said. “High-speed rail will spur economic development ... the way the interstate system has done. … Over the long run, high-speed rail will bolster America’s competitiveness.”

Noting that building and maintaining transportation infrastructure has long been a bipartisan issue, the president’s jobs plan includes ideas long supported by Democrats and Republicans, LaHood said.

“We need to focus on the next generation, not the next election,” he said.

Julie Sneider

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 9/20/2011