America 2050 Update: October 30, 2008

In This Update:
  • President Bush signs Rail Safety Enhancement Act of 2008
  • Upcoming forum: Rebuilding and Renewing America: Infrastructure Choices in the Great Lakes Megaregion
  • America 2050 Launches New Website
  • "Build for America" Press Event
  • America 2050 Joins Transportation for America
  • America 2050 convenes Strategic Investment Framework Working Groups
  • About America 2050

President Bush signs Rail Safety Enhancement Act of 2008

On October 16, President Bush signed into law the Rail Safety Bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the Senate and the House late last month.  The bill includes a multi-year authorization for increased funding to Amtrak and states to expand and improve intercity rail service.

The legislation authorizes $13 billion in capital and operating grants for intercity passenger rail over five years and could lead to significant new federal investments in Northeast Corridor service.  In particular, the legislation requires that Amtrak, in consultation with the Northeast Corridor states and the Secretary of Transportation, prepare a capital plan for projects required to bring railroad rights-of-way, facilities, stations, and equipment to a state of good repair by the end of FY 2018.
The bill will also spur new investments in intercity rail service across the country. The bill includes a $1.9 billion grant program to states to make investments in equipment, track improvements and facilities for intercity rail service in accordance with their state rail plans. Each state may complete a rail plan with the purpose of reviewing current service and identifying goals for future freight and intercity passenger service. The state grants are provided at a ratio of up to 80 percent federal match to state funds.

Passage of this legislation provides hope that years of gridlock in Washington on intercity passenger rail have finally come to an end.

Rebuilding and Renewing America: Infrastructure Choices in the Great Lakes Megaregion

On November 17th the Regional Plan Association and the Metropolitan Planning Council of Chicago will host the first in a series of America 2050 regional forums focusing on the nation's infrastructure titled, "Rebuilding and Renewing America: Infrastructure Choices in the Great Lakes Megaregion."  This series builds on the "Rebuilding & Renewing America" forum, which took place in Washington D.C on May 9th of this year.  At that event, business and civic leaders gathered to discuss the need for greater infrastructure investment at the federal level.

This gathering in Chicago will bring together 250 leaders from the business, labor civic, government, and academic communities in the Chicago region and the surrounding Great Lakes states to discuss and refine efforts to develop a national infrastructure plan. It will aim to identify and build consensus around the strategic infrastructure priorities and approaches in the Great Lakes megaregion that can be included in a national infrastructure plan and the authorization of a new surface transportation bill in Washington in 2009. For more information or to register for event, click here.

America 2050 Launches New Website

In our ongoing effort to make our program more accessible to our civic partners and the public, we have redesigned our website to make it more user-friendly and to provide more content and resources.  Check it out.

"Build for America" Campaign Launch

October 15: On the eve of the final presidential debate, civic leaders gathered with government officials in multiple cities across the country to launch the "Build for America" campaign, making the link between strengthening America's economy and building a 21st century transportation system. In New York, America 2050 joined with Transportation For America, Regional Plan Association, The NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign, Transportation Alternatives, and the New York General Contractors Association at Grand Central Terminal to call on the Presidential candidates and the next Congress to boost America's economy by building 21st Century transportation in America.

Speakers at the New York City event included DOT Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan, MTA chief executive Lee Sander, and U.S. Representatives Jerrold Nadler and Carolyn Maloney.  These leaders focused on the positive economic impact of federal spending on infrastructure in the face of a private sector slowdown.  They stressed that these transportation investments would provide both short term and long term benefits: boosting the economy in the short term by providing jobs and ensuring long term competitiveness as a country by providing capacity for efficient and sustainable economic growth. View press coverage of this event here. View press coverage of this event here.

America 2050 Joins Transportation For America Coalition

America 2050 has signed on as a member of Transportation For America, a national coalition focused on developing a 21st century transportation program in the next transportation bill that focuses on energy independence, transportation choice, saving money for American families, and responsible, environmentally friendly development.

Click here to visit the T 4 America website, read more about their platform, join the coalition or sign up for new and updates. Their recently launched "Build for America" Campaign includes a five-point plan:

1.    Build to Compete. We must catch and pass competitors in China and Europe, by modernizing and expanding our rail and transit networks to reduce oil dependence and connecting the metro regions that are the engines of the modern economy.

2.    Invest in a Clean, Green Recovery. Our nation's clean-energy future will require cleaner vehicles and new fuels, but it also must include support for the cleanest forms of transportation - modern public transit, walking and biking - and for energy-efficient, sustainable development.

3.    Fix What's Broken. Before building new roads, that will themselves have to be maintained, we must restore our crumbling highways, bridges and transit systems.

4.    Stop Wasteful Spending. Re-evaluate projects currently in the pipeline to eliminate those with little economic return that could deepen, rather than relieve, our oil dependence.

5.    Save Americans Money. Provide more travel and housing options that are affordable and efficient, while helping people to avoid high gas costs and traffic congestion. Save taxpayer dollars by asking the private developers who reap real estate rewards from new rail stations and transit lines to contribute toward that service.

America 2050 convenes Strategic Investment Framework Working Groups

As part of our efforts to promote a National Infrastructure Investment Plan, America 2050 has convened three working groups to develop a Strategic Investment Framework for national transportation policy.  The three working groups are: Intercity Passenger Travel, Goods Movement and Global Gateways, and Metropolitan Mobility.  The working groups, including practitioners and policy experts in transportation and related fields from across the country, will produce principles and criteria to guide project selection and an illustrative map of a "Trans-American Network" of intercity passenger movement, goods movement, intermodal hubs and global gateways to inform a program of national significance in the next surface transportation bill.  The products of the working groups will be vetted at a series of Rebuilding and Renewing America forums in regions across the country over the next year.

About America 2050

America 2050 is a national initiative to develop an infrastructure plan for the United States that will position America for equitable, sustainable and prosperous economic growth. We are developing strategies that anticipate the challenges of rapid population growth, climate change, mobility, and ensuring national prosperity in a changing global economy.

A major focus of America 2050 is the emergence of megaregions - large networks of metropolitan areas, where most of America's growth by mid-century will take place - and how to organize infrastructure investments, environmental protection, and economic opportunities for all at this new scale.

America 2050 includes a network of partners in megaregions across the country developing long-range strategies for sustainable growth and prosperity. A list of America 2050 partners is available on the America 2050 website at

America 2050 Update
Edited by Petra Todorovich
Director, America 2050
212-253-2727 x322