High-speed rail in the Midwest? Don’t hold your breath.

The future of high-speed rail in the U.S. remains unclear, with some bemoaning the slow pace of progress while others see glimmers of hope.

That’s the take of Minnesota2020’s Conrad Defiebre, who writes of the heated debate “over America’s high-speed passenger rail dreams.”

Are the proposed projects going mostly nowhere, as one side suggests, or will the $10.5 billion appropriated by Congress eventually be put to good use?

And while many of the projects in the works are less than true high-speed, will some of the transitional work pave the way for faster trains in the future?

DeFiebre describes new passenger rail proposals in California and Texas that could spark further interest in state-of-the-art rail projects, even in the Midwest. Maybe someday, he says.

“Does all of this mean Minnesotans will be zooming down tracks to Chicago or Rochester anytime soon? Not really. Our corridors aren’t as ripe for investment in high-speed rail now as those in California and Texas or even the private higher-speed rail project in Florida. But we should cheer them on. If they succeed while more modest passenger rail improvements take hold elsewhere, it could turn our dysfunctional transportation politics and habits upside-down, leading eventually to a brighter, less car-dependent future for all of us.”

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