"The metropolitan regions of the South and the Southeast in particular, are growing faster than other metropolitan regions across the country," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. "In order to meet the mobility needs of a growing population and to move the products they will need to market, rail must play an enhanced role in the transportation delivery network there."
Across the country, regions are banding together to forge collective long-term visions for passenger rail. Along the Northeast Corridor (NEC), eight states and the District of Columbia are working on a 40-year plan for rail service between Boston and Washington, D.C. In the Midwest, nine states and 40 cities have already developed the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative, a planning guide for long-term rail investments.
"Good planning is the cornerstone of service delivery and a plan reflecting the collective vision for a region helps the region compete effectively for future rail funds as money becomes available," said Szabo. "In order for the region to achieve optimum growth, it will be necessary for them to work together more closely and plan for their transportation future."
Szabo said regional planning between Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia could effectively yield seamless passenger rail travel all along the East Coast from Boston to Atlanta.
Szabo also highlighted the importance of the GROW AMERICA Act, the Obama Administration's four-year $302 billion surface transportation reauthorization bill now before Congress. The Act will invest $600 million in existing state corridors like the SEHSR and provide an additional $6.4 billion for rail service improvements along existing, expanding and new passenger corridors over the next four years.