On Friday, I had the opportunity to present at the Binational Tourism Summit 2010 to update attendees on New York State's High Speed Rail (HSR) initiative, and the work of the NYS High Speed Rail Coalition. I wanted to share the HSR presentation.
It's an interesting time for New York with our HSR program. Obviously, while we didn't get the vast amounts of cash for HSR that other states (or regions) did, we did get $151 million to work with - and it is now incumbent on New York to make good use of that funding. In the presentation above, there is a list of projects along the "Empire Corridor" that will be funded by that $151MM... Two are key - (1) the 2nd Main Track between Albany and Schenectedy, which is currently the main area of delay due to the mixing of faster passenger trains and slower freight rail; and (2) Phase 1 of dedicated passenger rail outside Batavia, which is the Corridor's foray into HSR. We make good on these projects, it puts us in a much stronger position for future funding.
Why did California, Florida and the Midwest get the lion's share of the funding? Certainly there are politics involved - but we also can't deny the fact that these states and regions have been at this a lot longer than we have. They've been planning for at least a decade longer than we have, have Rail Authorities established (which seemed to be something Washington liked to have in place), and in the Midwest, the collaboration among the various state governments was strong and effective. We must remember, though, that HSR is a big piece of our country's future, so this is just a start.
Beyond our morning session - which I was pleased to share with Chris Johnston from World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara, Port Colburne Mayor Vance Badawey and Arlene White from the Binational Tourism Alliance (BTA) - it was a good conference put on by the BTA. Lots of good binational issues being discussed as part of a conversation that has taken far too long to get started.