And what a coincidence that three of the top contenders for high-speed rail funding just so happen to be located in the home districts of the president, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. High-speed rail, it seems, is more about pork than transportation. For example, at the top of the funding list is an $11.5 billion high-speed electric rail project to link Obama’s adopted hometown of Chicago with St. Louis, even though there are plenty of other ways to get from one city to the other without spending billions in tax dollars that the federal government doesn’t have.
Another 800-mile high speed rail line in California would link Pelosi’s San Francisco district to San Diego and Sacramento, at a cost of at least $30 billion. Half of the funding for what Jon Gertner, writing in The New York Times, called “the most expensive single infrastructure project in United States history” would come from federal taxpayers – this in a state that is now issuing IOUs because it’s flat broke. And then there’s the $3.5 billion DesertXpress, which would run high-speed rail from Las Vegas, in Reid’s home state of Nevada, to Victorville, California (81.2 miles from LA) – a trip that would take just 3 hours and 10 minutes by car. Private investors plan to finance 30 percent of the cost and use low-interest government loans to build their Tracks to Nowhere.