America 2050 Update: Year End Edition

In This Update:

  • Support America 2050 with a Year End Contribution
  • Senate Passes Spending Bill: Includes $2.5 Billion for High-Speed Rail
  • America 2050 Urges Principles for Jobs Bill
  • Making the Case for High-Speed Rail on Fox Business News
  • Bipartisan Collaboration in the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion

  • About America 2050

Support America 2050 with a Year End Contribution

Over the past twelve months, marked by extraordinary economic and political turmoil, America 2050 has taken the lead on advancing a bold strategy for timely investments in infrastructure to stimulate the economy and create the foundation for a stronger, more diversified and sustainable economy in the future.

As 2009 comes to an end, I am writing to invite you to join America 2050's supporters and partners by making a tax-deductible contribution 
to America 2050. Your donation will make a huge difference to our effectiveness and independence - in more ways than one. It will provide much-needed financial backing and add to the strength of our advocacy.

Over the past twelve months, America 2050
has informed through papers, research seminars and high-level summits the Obama Administration's urban development and infrastructure investment strategy. America 2050's report, "Where High-Speed Rail Works Best" attracted the attention of policymakers and the news media with its hard-nosed analytic approach.

Around the country, America 2050 brought together leaders in Chicago, Sacramento, Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Orlando, and Houston to identify the components of a national infrastructure plan and come together as megaregions to solve pressing transportation, water, and energy challenges.  These megaregion forums helped develop a network of civic, business, government, and philanthropic leaders like you, whom we will continue to engage in the coming year as we advocate and develop recommendations for high-speed rail investments, water and energy infrastructure, large landscape conservation, and livable, equitable communities.


Finally, in collaboration with IBM, we are launching an open-source competition this Spring to develop visualizations of the future transportation and land-use patterns necessary to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector 80% by the year 2050. The winning entry will be announced and screened at RPA's 2010 Regional Assembly, "Innovation and the American Metropolis."

As you can see, our plans for the next year are ambitious. But we need your support as we push for a bold and compelling vision for the nation's infrastructure and ensure both financing and long-term political commitments to reach this goal.

We hope you will decide to
support America 2050 this December. Your support - financial and intellectual - will truly make a difference in the scope and effectiveness of the programs we undertake this coming year.

With best wishes for a happy holiday season and a very successful and prosperous New Year,


Petra Todorovich

Director, America 2050


Read on for the latest updates on America 2050's work.


Senate Passes Spending Bill: Includes $2.5 Billion for High-Speed Rail

On Sunday the Senate voted 57 to 32 to approve the omnibus spending bill, which included $2.5 billion for high-speed rail. The spending bill, which already passed the House, will go next to the President's desk for signature.


While the bill's $2.5 billion is less than the $4 billion for high-speed rail approved by the House in an earlier version of the spending bill this year, it exceeds the amount originally approved by the Senate--$1.2 billion. Thank you to everyone who made phone calls or contacted their Senators this fall asking them to raise the amount of funding for high-speed rail. With this appropriation Congress has indicated their strong support for the nation's high-speed rail program.


The bill also included a small ray of hope for the Northeast Corridor, which has been excluded from applying for significant grants in the FRA's high-speed rail program because it lacks an up-to-date corridor-wide Environmental Impact Statement (EIS). The spending bill includes $50 million for rail planning grants to states (with an 80/20 federal-state split). That $50 million is being eyed by states in the Northeast to fund their work on the Programmatic EIS in cooperation with the FRA and Amtrak in order to hasten the corridor's eligibility for funding in the FRA's High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail program.

2050 Urges Principles for Jobs Bill

America 2050 signed a letter last week to leaders in Congress proposing principles for transportation and infrastructure spending that could shape a potential jobs bill -- a prospect currently being discussed and debated on Capitol Hill. If we're going to fund infrastructure investments to put people back to work, it's imperative that we get the most out of our precious dollars -- and stay on track for passing the long-term transportation bill we so desperately need to get America moving again.

The letter recommended that any plan to create jobs through transportation spending should:

  1. Create the greatest number of jobs in the quickest time possible by prioritizing rehabilitation and operation of existing infrastructure and target new workforce development opportunities for people most in need of employment. (i.e., "Fix-it-first.")
  2. Chart a new 21st century direction in transportation policy.
  3. Be limited to no more than a year and not replace the long term authorization of the transportation bill.

Click here to read the full letter to the Speaker of the House.


Making the Case for High-Speed Rail

America 2050 staff and partners have been busy this month making the case for the nation's high-speed rail program, particularly with skeptical audiences.  I appeared on Fox Business News to talk to Stuart Varney on December 2. He took a contrary position, focusing on the length and expense of building high-speed rail, and the concern that these projects cannot clear environmental review, while I argued that these investments are essential to our nation's future competitiveness. View that clip here.  Days later, our partner in California, Rich Little, appeared on Brian Sullivan's Fox Business News show to discuss high-speed rail and the stimulus. Sullivan is more sympathetic to high-speed rail and offered Little a chance to make his point that high-speed rail won't work everywhere in this country--we must invest strategically in places with the greatest demand, echoing our conclusions in the study, Where High-Speed Rail Works Best.  Meanwhile, America 2050 analyst Yoav Hagler has been quoted frequently in the national print media, particularly in articles referencing the Florida bid for HSR funds. See articles quoting Hagler in USA Today and the Miami Herald.

Bipartisan Collaboration in the Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion                      

As a follow-up to last August's Piedmont Atlantic Megaregion Summit, the megaregion's mayors, led by Atlanta's Shirley Franklin and Charlotte's Pat McCrory, recently gathered in Greenville, South Carolina to formalize their new coalition, now called "The Piedmont Alliance for Quality Growth - Mayors, Business, Academia."

The Alliance was formed out of the recognition that city leaders will better tackle increasing challenges related to rapid population growth and the need for infrastructure if they work as a unit, rather than independently. Mayor Franklin also expressed her understanding of the megaregion's place in the global economy, stating, "I used to think of the Atlanta metro region as my sphere. But now I know - I'm in a megaregion which will increasingly influence the ability of America to prosper." To read Neal Peirce's column about this exciting new collaboration, click here. View a clip of Pat McCrory discussing megaregions. here.