U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, (pictured) a former Illinois congressman, has made clear that the Midwest rail project is a priority for the White House.

Reprinted with permission of Stateline.org

The race is on for states that want to build high-speed rail routes to whisk passengers hundreds of miles from city to city without the hassle of flying.

Congress sounded the starting gun by offering $8 billion in stimulus money to promote faster passenger rail service. Applications for the money, which likely will be parceled out all over the country, are due Aug. 24. But there already are two clear front-runners, offering contrasting approaches.

California dreams of bullet trains that could speed the 432 miles from San Francisco to Los Angeles in little more than two and a half hours. The European-style trains would cruise on all-new track, hitting 220 mph in places. California voters in November approved spending $10 billion to start building the new network, but it wouldn't be finished until 2020 at the earliest.


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