Monday, April 20, 2009

High-Speed Rail Choices in PA Debated

Present Obama's recent commitment to high-speed rail development means Pennsylvania transportation officials will have to figure out the best way to move forward with a Pittsburgh to Philadelphia line over the next few months. The line is to run from Pittsburgh, through Harrisburg and on to Philadelphia. It is one of ten corridors singled out by the Administration for funding. Penn State Harrisburg professor and transportation expert Jeremy Plant says if the line gets built, PennDOT officials will need to decide whether to improve on existing rail infrastructure, or build a new line with Maglev technology. He says, “[A] lot of it's going to depend on how much the administration wants to see a interconnected high-speed rail system, which would almost inevitably be based on the traditional steel wheel on rail technology that we have now. Or whether they'd be willing to see kind of a hybrid system that would mix maglev technology with the steel rail.” PennDOT spokesman Rich Kirkpatrick says the department expects to learn more details about the federal government's plan in June, but he understands administration officials would rather build on existing lines. McKeesport based Maglev Inc has been trying to build a high-speed magnetic levitation line from Pittsburgh International to the golden triangle for years. Maglev President Fred Gurney says he is optimistic his technology will be chosen. He says he will continue to lobby to make that a reality. President Obama wants to spend 13 billion dollars on high-speed rail over the next five years.

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