Wednesday, February 18, 2009

High Speed Rail Gets $8bn: Obama's Signature Issue in Stimulus Bill

In the final hours of the stimulus bill's negotiations, high-speed rail more than tripled its prior renditions to end up at $8 billion. Critics of the bill tried to cast blame of Sen. majority leader Reid 'earmarking' $8bn in high speed rail funds for a line from LA to Vegas however the real driver seems to have come from the White House. While a few of Obama's 'favorites' were battered through the negotiations (school building, electricity grid upgrade), the high-speed rail push seems to have faced limited opposition, and little knowledge it was coming from Obama. Some of the lessened resistance to the HSR funding seems to come from the vocal opposition (ME and PA Republicans strongly opposed other items in the bill) since their Northeast constituents will likely benefit the most from HSR development.

So, $8bn is a lot of money, right? In U.S. relative terms, yes, this far surpasses any previous investment in HSR. However, it is only the beginning of what will be needed to build a comprehensive HSR network. And, apparently there is more on the way, whereby Obama (per Politico's interview with administration officials) is prepared to add $1bn each of the next 5 years within his initial 2010 budget outline.

What's next? Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is given 60 days to come up with a strategic plan for the funds. The combination of large capital upfront — followed by annual appropriations — fits the prototype for the infrastructure bank once considered for, but never included in, the recovery bill.

Then what? Simply throwing a large chunk of money at HSR is not going to make it successful. It is going to take prudent deployment of these funds but more importantly it is going to take a combination of private investments, human ingenuity and U.S. labor to bring Obama's vision to reality. Some call HSR a pipe dream and mock it as an investment into fairy tale programs to nowhere however these were dreams we let fail more than 25 years ago. Dreams which fell along with the middle-class of our nation and the blue-collar workforce. Dreams are what defined this country's leadership throughout the world and thinking beyond the status quo is what will propel us into the 21st century as a leader the world can respect and join.

Let's get to work, and make good on Obama's Signature Issue of this Stimulus Package! Join POW V High Speed Rail in connecting the corridors and redefine the dreams of PA, OH and WV and the nation they've built before.

Some of the information from this post is sourced from David Rogers' article for Politico.


POW V Management

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stimulus Package and Mass Transit

Today, the Senate passed their version of the stimulus bill. Since the same legislation must be approved by both Houses of Congress, we now await Conference Committee to hammer through the differences between the Senate and House versions. Then, the two houses will have to vote and approve the same bill prior to President Obama's final signature.

The Transport Politic prepared the below comparison chart which details the two house's versions which is reconstructed below. For more discussion, go to Transit in the Stimulus Package.

Within the mass transit aggregate, there are some 'winners' and 'losers' in the two version. For high speed rail, it appears the Senate version will provide a more friendly environment for the surging high speed rail discussions. Although only a fraction of the total stimulus package (mass transit will not get much more than 1% of the total spend), $2bn for high speed rail could throw 'fuel to the fire' in promoting high speed rail investments around the country. Pending the final package, there appears to also be some 'wiggle room' for the states to determine the allocation of the transportation spending between building roads and building public transit. This could go a long way in stabilizing state/local projects which might otherwise be compromised in the face of tight budgets during a recession. To let these projects fail and not bring forth even bolder strategies for mass transit will be a failure in many aspects. Failures we might not realize until we hit the next economic crisis, oil shortage, national security breach or all of the above. We must invest now in the next generation of moving people. This is no George Jetson transportation system, this is a real solution which is being successfully utilized throughout the world. It is widely discussed how Germany, France and Japan have used high speed rail for decades however we're now seeing countries like Sweden move ahead and Turkey is scheduled to open a high speed rail line in March.

Join our movement in bringing high speed rail to America!

Email us at or visit our website at to become a member of our growing movement...

Sunday, February 8, 2009

What is the POW V Corridor?

The POW V corridor is a railroad 'right of way' which spans from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Columbus, OH. POW V High Speed Rail was born ~25 years ago when a group of railroaders and regional leaders gathered to save the 'Panhandle Right of Way' via a motion to bring high-speed rail to the line. Under the terms of the provided 'right of way', if there was intent to bring high-speed rail to the line, the line could not be removed. This, in turn, blocked the railroad's intentions back in the 1980's. If we fast-forward to 2008, the original POW V team realized the climate was ripe to resurface the idea. While high-speed rail should have been implemented 25 years ago in the United States, we are now presented with the obvious need for its development.

Ok, now that you have the basic story of how the POW V Corridor came to be, where does this route actually take us? As mentioned the route begins from the East in Pittsburgh, PA and heads westward. The route heads due west towards the West Virginia northern panhandle passing through Weirton, WV. Crossing the Ohio River from Weirton, this line then passes into Ohio thru Steubenville, OH. From there, the line continues westward although dropping a bit to the south towards Columbus. Along its pathway in Ohio, the POW V line touches the cities of Uhrichsville, New Comerstown, Coshocton and Newark (then Columbus).

Let's assume you agree we need high-speed rail from Pittsburgh to Columbus. You might then ask, why this route? To fully understand this route's significance, we need to understand the history of this line. This line attained and is still often referenced as the 'Pan Handle Railroad' because of its passage across the northern pan handle of West Virginia. In the 1850's, multiple railroad companies connected this route. From its origination to the 1970's, this line served as a primary route in building the infrastructure of our nation. For the industrial revolution, it connected the Eastern seaboard with the Midwestern cities like St. Louis. As it still does today, the location of this line made it's service a necessity of a growing nation. To read more details on the railroads which originally brought the Pan Handle Railroad, see Pan Handle Route.

High-speed rail makes sense. It makes sense now in America and it makes sense to start it within a route and region which brought us our first industrial revolution. To join our movement, go to or email us directly at to learn more about our growing team!

Saturday, February 7, 2009

POW V among 80 U.S. High-Speed Rail Respondents

Earlier this week, the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee announced they've received 80 responses to the Federal Railroad Administration’s request for expressions of interest to develop high-speed rail corridors. Although still without full recognition as a defined high-speed rail corridor, POW V is sitting amongst the 'big guys' on this list which includes: transportation finance companies; transportation consultants; architectural, engineering and construction firms; rail service providers; major international conglomerates; train manufacturers; and state departments of transportation. However, we're the only group proposing the strategic Pittsburgh to Columbus 'right of way' which we secured some 25 years ago.

Now that we're 'on the list' how do we get 'on the map'? What's next? POW V is now moving into the next phase of its action plan: building awareness in the communities along the line and attaining support from key legislators/leaders for this transformational development. The more people hear our proposal, the more strength our movements gains. Although bold and monumental in its intentions, relying on this tri-state region to develop the next generation of transportation and infrastructure is not a new story. There are many reasons this tri-state region served as the focal point for our country's transportation needs including the original rail lines of the 19th century, the river boats/barge system connecting to the Mississippi (and beyond), and the original Interstate Highway system including I-70 (and it's predecessors). We'll break the primary reasons this region has led the transportation developments throughout American history into groups: location, natural resources and people.

Location: the PA/OH/WV tri-state region has and is the most central location amongst our nation's population and business. The region sits about 400 miles from NYC (#1 U.S. pop) and Chicago (#3 U.S. pop), less than 300 to DC and Philadelphia (#5 U.S. pop), within 700 miles of the southern hub of Atlanta and within a days drive to many other key cities on the East of the Mississippi. And, it is within a stone's throw from our northern border with Canada.

Natural Resources: there are several resources in abundance within this region which have each served industry and development to this day. First, the vast amounts of water flowing through the Ohio River fed the movement westward and facilitated usage of the other resources of the region including coal and iron which helped drive the steel, aluminum and other industries.

People: the people side of this is likely a derivative of the former two factors whereby the region's service as the original 'gateway to the west' left many cities and people along the way and the rise of the steel and other industries attracted a plethora of foreigners to work in the rise of the blue-collar jobs. The blue-collar workforce continued to grow in the region until the late-70's when mills and plants started to close. The 'dumping' of cheap foreign steel, rise in U.S. labor costs and the inability to 'reinvent' the blue-collar industries all played a role in the decline of this region's economy and its people.

This is where POW V comes into play. Tapping into these primary resources, we (inclusive of all people within the region) plan to 'reinvent' and reestablish this region as the backbone for transportation and infrastructure. High-speed rail is already very successful in other parts of the world and now is the time for America to wake up. Now is the time for the PA, OH, WV tri-state region to step up and puts its resources, ingenuity and muscle at the base of this movement and carry a nation into another generation. Call it a green-collar economy if you want however the people of this region only know it as a way of life. A way of life which puts food on their tables and leaves them with a sense of pride for their part in building a better world.

The time for high-speed rail in the U.S. is now and the political, environmental, and economical environments are all pointed in favor. The notion of bringing high-speed rail to the U.S. without inclusion of the strategic stretch of Pittsburgh-Columbus is fundamentally broken. Join our movement to bring jobs and pride back to this region and you'll be a part of building a stronger union for all. Go to to learn more or contact us at

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

POW V Submits its Letter of Intent to FRA for High-Speed Rail

Response to: FRA–2008–0140

POW V High Speed Rail has submitted it's official letter of intent for consideration of high speed rail to be added on the POW V corridor (Pittsburgh to Columbus). The registry along with other responses of the FRA's request can be viewed via the above link while POW V's objective can be read below:

The POW V Corridor is a sensible inclusion in any future plans to create a national high-speed rail system. The POW V Corridor in its historic positioning is a functional centerpiece in a national system. Anyone who looks at the map of the current and proposed corridors will see that is obvious. The POW V Corridor not only connects otherwise disjointed pieces but it sits atop a roadbed that has traditionally created such infrastructures. Railroads are built on the iron shipped from Ohio, the coal dug in West Virginia, and the steel forged in Pennsylvania. If we are investing in an American future we need to create that vision with the resources we have. The POW V Corridor has those material resources and it has the labor resources that have done the heavy lifting for such ventures in our history. If we are to earn our way back as an industrial nation we need to utilize resources such as these to base our product of recovery on. That takes believing in our abilities and trusting in our willingness to perform. The POW V Corridor is where that could happen and that’s why we are including the POW V Corridor in this request for proposals at this time.