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ITI's Carmichael on Obama's high-speed rail strategy: 'most ambitious' transportation plan since 1950s


With his commitment to a nationwide intermodal and high-speed rail system, President Obama has presented the "most ambitious U.S. transportation infrastructure program since the 1950s, when President Eisenhower initiated development of the interstate highway system," according to Gil Carmichael, chairman of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver.

A former Federal Railroad Administrator and former chairman of the Amtrak Reform Council, Carmichael since 1991 has advocated what he calls Interstate II, a rail-based intermodal transportation system.

"President Obama clearly recognizes that his proposal is only the first phase of what will become a three-part, high-speed, intercity transportation network that will connect all our major cities, ports and airports via rail," said Carmichael in a prepared statement. "This is the first time an intermodal strategy with a strong emphasis on both freight and passenger rail transportation has been proposed by the federal government."

Obama's plan calls for investing $8 billion for intercity and high-speed rail, and $1.3 billion through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Once billions more are invested over the years, the U.S. could create three times more freight-rail capacity and build a nationwide high-speed passenger-rail network connecting hundreds of city pairs, said Carmichael.

"Phase I of Interstate II represents an important policy shift toward developing and maintaining a national, intermodal, passenger transportation network ... that will be based on cooperative joint ventures between the freight- and passenger-rail segments, and in partnerships with state and federal agencies," he said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

More News from 4/22/2009