February 1, 2010
Check out the classifieds in this issue to find numerous job opportunities including a General Manager!
APTA’s High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee: Ready, Willing, and Able!
BY ROD DIRIDON SR., Chair, APTA High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee and National Corridors Coalition
What a pleasure it is to provide a perspective to this very special edition of Passenger Transport!
Though all of the world’s other industrialized nations have high-speed rail, that obvious step has been very difficult for the U.S.! But, after more than 30 years of preparation, thanks to APTA and our many supporters, high-speed rail is on a roll!!
California’s High Speed Rail Authority—of which I am a past chair and a governor’s appointee—will sign contracts in late 2011 for the state’s $42 billion starter line, the single largest public works project in U.S. history. Leading that effort, in November of 2008, California’s voters approved Proposition 1A’s $9.95 billion in high-speed rail bonds, the nation’s first. Then President Obama and Congress gave the cause a terrific national jump start by providing $8 billion for high-speed rail in the February 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and $2.5 billion additional in the December Fiscal Year 2010 Appropriation legislation.
We applaud James. L. Oberstar (D-MN), chair of the House Transportation & Infrastructure Committee, for his addition of $50 billion for high-speed and intercity rail in the House version of the surface transportation authorization act for the next six years. This is our nation’s next logical step toward modern, sustainable mobility following the early canal and toll road networks, then the railroads, then the national highway system, and now the new mobility and a new industry that will be catalyzed by a comprehensive national high-speed rail system.
APTA Takes Lead
With characteristic foresight, APTA has taken a leading role in creating this opportunity by assimilating the venerated, old High Speed Ground Transportation Association into the larger, comprehensive, and well staffed High Speed and Intercity Rail Committee (HS&IC) and National Corridors’ Coalition.
That 150-plus organizational member group is the spearhead for the needed high-speed rail “coalition advocacy” with other transportation modes and national organizations.
In recent months our HS&IC Rail Committee has taken on a number of significant tasks. We participated in a task force created by the APTA Executive Committee to unite APTA’s membership around key principles that could offer guidance to DOT as programs and policies were shaped in the critical weeks following the announcement of the federal funds available for high-speed rail. The overarching goal was to frame a program that would have strong and ongoing Congressional support for all modes of mass transportation. That “coalition advocacy” includes high-speed rail grants for projects that are a) ready-to-go, b) in the corridor development phase, and c) in the planning phase.
We also endorsed a program that would accommodate the types of projects being advanced in different regions of the country. This includes high-speed rail express (150+ mph), high-speed rail regional (110-150 mph), emerging high-speed rail (90-110 mph), and conventional rail (79-90 mph).
The HS&IC Committee and Corridors Coalition has worked closely with the APTA Legislative and Commuter Rail committees on several policy papers that outline a policy agenda for the many railroad issues pending before Congress.
At the request of the HS&IC Rail Committee at the 2009 APTA Annual Meeting, APTA adopted two very significant resolutions. The first affirmed APTA’s support for a $50 billion high-speed rail title in the next surface transportation authorization; the second called for adequate federal funding to support the implementation of positive train control. These and related policies will continue to be a central part of the Committee’s coalition advocacy focus in cooperation with APTA’s broader legislative mission.
There has been an extensive outreach to key partnering organizations. Most notable has been the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), requested by the HS&IC Rail Committee, among APTA, the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), and the States for Passenger Rail Coalition (S4PR). This MOU identified a number of specific actions to be taken in joint advocacy for high-speed rail.
We are working very closely with FRA Administrator Joe Szabo, Deputy Administrator Karen Rae, and the fine FRA team as they develop their National Rail Plan, scheduled for Sept. 15, 2010. The plan will focus on the many issues necessary to accommodate the projected growth for rail passenger and freight service to achieve full potential. Included are workforce, manufacturing, shared-corridor, economic development, connectivity, livability, equipment, regulatory, funding program delivery, and many other issues. This is a great opportunity to help high-speed rail to thrive.
Members Take Action
The pages that follow cover the many issues high-speed rail will confront. The High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee and Corridors Coalition (with representatives of the 11 federally designated corridors) are addressing those issues. The committee’s Steering Committee consists of the 11 corridor representatives, the committee’s elected officers, and subcommittee chairs. The officers: Ohio Director of Transportation Jolene Molitoris (former long-serving Federal Railroad Administrator) as vice chair (and Work-plan Subcommittee Chair as well); Chuck Wochele of ALSTOM Transportation, Inc. as secretary, and Ray Lanman of Herzog Corp. as past chair. Subcommittee Chairs: rail consultant Stan Feinsod and Rick Bacigalupo of the Orange County Transportation Authority; Membership/Outreach Subcommittee Chairs Robert Dietz of Gannett Fleming and George Dorshimer of LTK Engineers; Nominating and Bylaws Subcommittee Chair Al Engel of AECOM; Program Subcommittee Chair Peter Gertler of HNTB Corporation; Shared Corridors Subcommittee Chair Will Kempton of the Orange County Transportation Authority; and Research Subcommittee Chair Charley Quandel of Quandel Consulting. That remarkable team deserves your recognition.
Exciting Times Ahead
We are living in exciting times, times of challenge and opportunity. We are excited that APTA is providing the coalition advocacy leadership that allows APTA’s High Speed and Intercity Rail Committee and Corridor Coalition to convert challenges to success for the U.S. high-speed rail network.
Enjoy this edition of Passenger Transport, and please contact APTA’s KellyAnne Gallagher to become involved in APTA’s High-Speed and Intercity Rail Committee.