Lost among contentious battles over big picture issues - Afghanistan, health care, global warming - are Obama Administration initiatives which could transform America.
The effort to jump start high-speed rail projects across the continental U.S., for example, will have enormous impact over urban and suburban development patterns, energy use and, of course, intercity transportation.
The start-up $8 billion stimulus money is spurring state and regional action on land acquisition, engineering, contracting, and ultimately construction of these corridors. It will certainly be many years and decades before we see 220 mile-an-hour bullet trains connecting Los Angeles to San Francisco, Chicago to St. Louis, Houston to New Orleans, Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and Miami to Tampa, but these labor intensive projects will provide tens of thousands of high-wage jobs.
Spearheading the plan is the U.S. Department of Transportation, led by its energetic Secretary Ray LaHood, who before his appointment by President Obama was a Republican member of Congress from Illinois for 14 years.
The DOT recently announced that more than 30 rail manufacturers and suppliers have agreed that if they’re contracted to work on high-speed rail, they will operate out of U.S.-based production facilities. That means that the tracks, wires and station materials will be built right here in America.