Sen. Kirk: High-speed rail should be limited to short distances

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Putting people in high-speed rail across Nebraska makes no sense, he said.

Earlier this year, Republicans turned high-speed rail into their latest cause célèbre against the Obama administration, with some referring to the proposals as “ObamaRail” in the same vein as critics who call the federal healthcare law ObamaCare. 

GOP governors in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida made shows of rejecting federal money for high-speed rail in their states, and Republicans in Congress tried repeatedly to defund other projects.

After estimates showed a proposal railway in California would cost more than expected, Florida Gov. Rick Scott said the news vindicated his rejection of $2.4 billion for a line in his state.

The news … out of California that High Speed Rail cost estimates have now tripled to the $100 billion range reinforces that Florida made the right decision earlier this year to protect taxpayers from just this sort of boondoggle, Scott said in a news release. As I said at the time, high speed rail would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits. 

But separately from Kirks appearance Tuesday, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood promised the Obama administration would keep pushing on high-speed rail.

The only thing stopping them from hiring Americans on factory floors and rail corridors is Congress, LaHood, who is also from Illinois, wrote in a blog on the Department of Transportation website.

It’s not too late to put more people back to work, and it’s not too late for Congress to pass the transportation pieces of the American Jobs Act.