New Governors Could Derail Obama's High-Speed Trains

Many of this year's Republican gubernatorial candidates have vowed to delay -- or permanently end -- the administration's high-profile plans for high-speed rail.
by | October 5, 2010

One of the biggest initiatives announced in President Obama's State of the Union address earlier this year was his plan for a network of high-speed rail lines throughout the nation. His administration even directed $8 billion in stimulus funds to states to begin work on the lines.

But many of the current Republican candidates for governor across the country have said that, if elected, they'll delay or halt implementation of the rail system, according to the New York Times:

In Ohio, the Republican candidate for governor, John Kasich, is vowing to kill a $400 million federal stimulus project to link Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati by rail. In Florida, Rick Scott, the Republican candidate for governor, has questioned whether the state should invest in the planned rail line from Orlando to Tampa. The state got $1.25 billion in federal stimulus money for the project, but it will cost at least twice that much to complete.

And the nation’s most ambitious high-speed rail project, California’s $45 billion plan to link Los Angeles and San Francisco with trains that would go up to 220 miles per hour, could be delayed if Meg Whitman, a Republican, is elected governor. “In the face of the state’s current fiscal crisis, Meg doesn’t believe we can afford the costs associated with new high-speed rail at this time,” said Tucker Bounds, a campaign spokesman.

In some places, GOP opposition to the plan is even stronger. Fighting high-speed rail has become a central campaign issue for Scott Walker, the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Wisconsin.

Mr. Walker, who worries that the state could be required to spend $7 million to $10 million a year to operate the trains once the line is built, started a Web site, NoTrain.com, and has run a television advertisement in which he calls the rail project a boondoggle. “I’m Scott Walker,” he says in the advertisement, “and if I’m elected as your next governor, we’ll stop this train.”

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