A high-speed rail proposal will be launched first in the Midwest, not California, if Rep. Jim Oberstar has any say in the matter.
And he does, as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
He told the Mesabi Daily News that the Midwest is far ahead of California in terms of planning for the rail initiative.
“This really should be called the Rudy Perpich high-speed initiative. The former governor (of Minnesota from Hibbing) and I talked about it back in 1989 and ’90. I think it’s looking very good for the Midwest to get the high-speed initiative,” Oberstar said in an interview with the paper.
Federal officials have said that the Midwestern states’ proposal and one from California are the leading candidates for $8 billion in stimulus money for a new high-speed rail project. One official cited the cooperation of eight Midwest states to formulate a network plan with Chicago as a hub and 12 metropolitan areas — including the Twin Cities — within a 400-mile radius.
Said the paper:
Oberstar compares it to the hub-and-spoke airline system, with a few major hubs and several arterial sites connected to them. The proposed Duluth-to-Twin Cities Northern Lights Express would be considered a feeder line to the Twin Cities. But Oberstar said the Northern Lights Express project, which has been moving ahead for a few years now, is not reliant on the stimulus package high-speed money.