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California Gets Wisconsin and Ohio's Rail Money

Wisconsin and Ohio don't want their money for fast, efficient transportation? Maybe that's better for the future of high-speed rail anyway.


As part of the stimulus package, Wisconsin got $810 million for high-speed rail and Ohio got $385 million. But then those states elected anti-big-government governors who didn't want the money. John Kasich, of Ohio, said "this train is dead" after being elected.

Senators Diane Feinstein and Barbara Boxer of California asked if maybe other states that do want fast, efficient transportation could split that money and today, the Department of Transportation said yes:


The biggest winners of Ohio and Wisconsin’s money were California, which will receive another $624 million on top of the nearly $3 billion it has received so far toward the construction of a high-speed train from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and Florida, which will get another $342 million on top of the roughly $2 billion it has received to build a high-speed train between Orlando and Tampa.

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It's unfortunate that Ohio and Wisconsin are missing out on this money, but it's probably a much more efficient use of the high-speed rail funds to concentrate it in a few places. The cost of these rail networks far exceeds the federal grants. California's proposed network, for example, is expected to cost $43 billion in total, so even with its roughly $3.5 billion in federal money, it's still a long way off. That means that states have to pony up a lot of money themselves, and the thinner the federal money is spread, the greater the likelihood that any given project fails to get fully financed.

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