Perdue's change of heart on high-speed rail is welcome news

Editor's note: Today's guest editorial is from the Savannah Morning News. Gov. Sonny Perdue returns from a meeting of governors in Washington as a new convert to the idea of high-speed rail. What's more, he's vowed to evangelize the governors of neighboring states -- who skipped the meeting with Vice President Joe Biden and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood -- on the merits of establishing a high-speed rail network. Perdue's change of heart is welcome news. For years, Perdue downplayed high-speed rail as too expensive and unlikely to draw enough riders to be self-supporting.
To be sure, President Obama's announcement of $8 billion in rail funding from stimulus funds, plus another $5 billion called for in the president's budget, might have been enough to turn the governor's head on the issue. (Although aides say Perdue's train travels in China and Spain also played a role.) The seductive nature of federal money does not, however, negate the wisdom of improving the nation's transportation infrastructure in a way that gives Americans more choices, helps reduce our dependence on foreign oil, lessens highway congestion and cuts illness-causing air pollution. While $13 billion isn't really enough to start construction on a high-speed rail system, it is enough to kick off the studies and planning necessary before construction can begin. The president's initial proposal calls for upgrading existing Amtrak routes, instead of laying all-new rail lines. That should hold down costs by reducing expenditures on right-of-way acquisition. While this idea risks maintaining Amtrak's brain-boggling routing system, word from Transportation Secretary LaHood is that the route plan for the new lines is still fluid: New stops could still be added. As for the issue of rider demand, the much faster trains should increase the appeal of rail travel. High-speed rail is often faster for regional travel than air lines, once airport hassles are figured in, along with travel to city centers from outlying airports. Those who doubt the viability of high-speed rail point out that it will take billions of dollars and decades of time to build a nationwide rail network. But the question is not whether we want to spend the money, but where we want to spend it. Should we continue spending those billions on foreign oil and protecting our interests in oil-rich Middle Eastern nations? Or should we spend those dollars at home? Investing those dollars in cleaner, less oil-thirsty technologies like high-speed rail gets an "amen."


More Opinion

Rants, Raves & Really?!?

A look back at last week’s highs, lows and whatevers: RAVE: Huge day for education in Newnan and Coweta County. The University of West ... Read More


Georgia Says

The Gainesville Times on exams having some feeling testy: Schools may be nearing a tipping point over standardized tests. This month, paren ... Read More


‘I’m not black, white, red, yellow or nothing ...’

Freddie Gray, a black man from Baltimore, was arrested in the city’s west side on April 12. He died April 19 while still in police cus ... Read More


Rants, Raves & Really?!?

A look back at last week’s highs, lows and whatevers: RAVE: Kris Mossburg, a chemistry teacher and cross country coach at Newnan High ... Read More


Georgia Says

The Telegraph, Macon on Earth Day: When the first Earth Day appeared 45 years ago, no one was driving a hybrid or electric car. No one was ... Read More

Coweta County commissioners trying to one-up Grantville council

In about a week, May 1 to be exact, the Coweta County Fire Department will assume full responsibility for emergency management services. Dep ... Read More