"Today America takes its first step toward transforming its transportation system," said HNTB Corporation's Peter Gertler in response to President Barack Obama's announcement allocating $8 billion to high-speed rail projects across the country.
Gertler, high-speed rail services chair for the national infrastructure firm, said these projects— along current and proposed rail lines in California, Illinois, Wisconsin, Florida, North Carolina, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere— will yield significant benefits to the recipient states and regions. "Even in the short-term, such an investment will spur construction, create jobs and boost local transit systems. In the future, this valuable new choice for the traveling public will reduce dependence on foreign oil, promote more livable communities and help us become a greener nation," Gertler said.
President Obama has called such infrastructure funding— through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act— the largest investment in infrastructure since the Interstate Highway System was created.
"Yet this is just the first step," Gertler said. "To keep the momentum going, Congress should consider a dedicated funding program for high-speed rail as part of a new surface transportation bill."
The president and vice president emphasized that a high-speed rail system will be expensive, and this initial funding will serve to seed corridors where it can make the most difference. According to Gertler, these initial federal dollars will enable the nation's first high-speed trains to be operational by 2015, with additional lines opening up by 2020. HNTB has worked with states and transportation authorities for many years to advance the prospect of high-speed rail in America.
HNTB Corporation is an employee-owned infrastructure firm serving federal, state, municipal, military and private clients.