I'm pleased to hear the news out of Baltimore this morning that the US Conference of Mayors has reaffirmed their support for an American high-speed rail network.
Because of high-speed rail's many benefits, the nation's mayors today approved a resolution commending the Obama Administration's "leadership in promoting high-speed rail in America" and urging Congress "to support the Administration's High-Speed Rail Initiative through the appropriations and authorizations process."
America's mayors appreciate President Obama's commitment to connect 80 percent of Americans to high-speed rail in the next 25 years.
They appreciate the $10.1 billion the Administration has devoted to putting America on track toward improved rail access and faster service, and they approve of the President's proposed $53 billion in high-speed rail investments over the next six years. That's because our nation's mayors know that a strict "Buy America" requirement means that high-speed rail investments will put thousands of Americans to work, save travelers hundreds of thousands of hours every year, and boost U.S. manufacturing. And they know that high-speed rail will spur economic development across the country.
I want to thank the US Conference of Mayors for reaffirming their strong support for bringing high-speed rail and all its economic benefits to America. And I particularly want to thank the mayors who submitted today's resolution: Ashley Swearengin of Fresno, Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, Jerry Sanders of San Diego, Francis Slay of St. Louis, Pedro Segarra of Hartford, Mike McGinn of Seattle, Sam Adams of Portland, Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, Ed Lee of San Francisco, and Miguel Pulido of Santa Ana.
This is not the first time we've had terrific support from mayors on high-speed rail. Earlier this month, several California mayors made the strong case for high-speed rail in an op-ed in the Sacramento Bee. As they put it:
"Building it is a major investment, but the most recent estimates say it would cost twice as much over the next generation to build new highways and runways just to move the same number of people. With California expected to grow by 12 million people in the next 25 years, investment in the state's transportation system is inevitable, and high-speed rail is a cost-effective alternative."
They are exactly right. Our investment in high-speed rail will be significant, but the cost of expanding roads and airports to accommodate a rapidly growing population over the coming decades will be even more costly, and it won't solve the problem.
High-speed rail will bring jobs, economic development, revitalized US manufacturing, and reduced travel time to America. With those benefits, it’s safe to say that the mayors who wrote the Sacramento Bee opinion got it right: “the United States needs high-speed rail, so let's keep going.”