This week in Transportation: Hurricane Sandy recovery still under review

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Witnesses at the Senate hearing this week will include New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) Chairman Joseph Lhota and New Jersey Transit Executive Director James Weinstein.

The full Commerce, Science and Transportation will also hold an executive session on Tuesday. An agenda for the meeting had not been set as of late Friday afternoon.

Elsewhere, aviation watchers will be keeping an eye on a potential merger between American Airlines and U.S. Airways. American has been working through bankruptcy since last year, but U.S. Airways has proposed a combination of the two companies that would match an industry trend.

There's no firm timetable for an announcement of a decision on the possible merger, but transportation observers have speculated that a union could be forthcoming any day.

In preparation for the holiday season, Amtrak will add extra trains this week on its route between Chicago and Ann Arbor, the company said last week. The extra trains will begin running westbound from Chicago on Friday and continue through the weekend.

Amtrak said the trains will operate at a top speed of 110 miles per hour. The speed of the company's rail cars has been a touchstone in the debate in Congress over privatizing the development of high-speed rail.

Republicans in the House have argued that private sector companies could develop technology for faster trains more quickly than Amtrak. Amtrak has said that its Acela trains could go as fast as 150 miles per hour if they did not have to share tracks with the company's regular trains, like the route in Michigan.