n the morning of April 16, 2009, President Obama, flanked by the vice president and the secretary of transportation, announced a plan to devote $8 billion of his economic recovery package (the stimulus), plus another $1 billion a year for five years, to fund high-speed rail corridors across the nation. “Imagine whisking through towns at speeds over 100 miles an hour, walking only a few steps to public transportation, and ending up just blocks from your destination,” the president said. “Imagine what a great project that would be to rebuild America.”
Nine months later, in January of this year, the administration specified where and how those billions of high-speed rail dollars would be allotted. The biggest winners were two long-planned bullet-train routes: One in Florida, designed to span the 80 miles between Tampa and Orlando, which took in $1.25 billion of federal money; and the other in California, a proposed system that would eventually connect Sacramento, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and San Diego, which collected $2.3 billion. The highly traveled Northeast Corridor route that currently stretches from Washington, D.C., to Boston received only $112 million.