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About That High-Speed Rail Funding...

By Kevin Robinson in News on Nov 11, 2010 3:20PM

The news this week has been filled with reports that recently elected Republican governors in Midwestern states want to turn down cash for high-speed rail projects funded through the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. To read the news reports, however, one would think that these conservative, cost-conscious governors would simply refuse the funding on the principal that we can't afford to build a high-speed rail network right now.

Except that isn't the case. Scott Walker, Wisconsin's governor-elect doesn't want to turn down the federal funding - he wants to use it on state highways instead. In a letter to Walker, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood clarified the purpose of the federal grants. "I respect the power of governors to make decisions for their states," LaHood wrote to Walker. "There seems to be some confusion, however, about how these high-speed rail dollars can be spent. For this reason, I would like to set the record straight: None of the money provided to Wisconsin may be used for road or highway projects, or anything other than high-speed rail. Consequently, unless you change your position, we plan to engage in an orderly transition to wind down Wisconsin's project so that we do not waste taxpayers' money." The Wall Street Journal could not reach Walker for comment, but noted that Wisconsin has already received over $700 million in separate stimulus funding for other road, bridge, highway, transit and airport projects.