America 2050 Update: March 30, 2011

  • RPA's 21st Annual Regional Assembly: "Innovation and the Global City"
  • Efforts to Protect High-Speed Rail Funding in 2011 Federal Budget
  • NEW VIDEO: "Why Build High-Speed Rail in the Northeast?"
  • Census 2010 - Megaregion Growth Outpaces National Growth
  • Urban Growth in the Northeast Megaregion
  • "Why High-Speed Rail is Right" by Robert Yaro, Co-Chair, America 2050
  • Florida Governor Rick Scott Cancels High-Speed Rail Project - $2.4 Billion Made Available Through Competitive Bidding Process
  • America 2050 in the News

RPA's 21st Annual Regional Assembly: "Innovation and the Global City"

America 2050 is participating in Regional Plan Association's 21st Annual Regional Assembly in New York City on Friday, April 15th, 2011. The Assembly, "Innovation and the Global City," will explore what global cities, from Singapore to London, and from Stockholm to New York, are doing to remain competitive on the world stage. The Assembly is chaired by Siemens.

The Assembly's Keynote speakers include: Richard Burdett, Centennial Professor in Architecture and Urbanism, London School of Economics, and Director, Urban Age; Edward Glaeser, Fred and Eleanor Glimp Professor of Economics, Harvard University; and The Honorable Dannel P. Malloy, Governor, State of Connecticut.

A workshop focusing on high-speed rail will feature panelists, Karen Rae, Deputy Administrator, Federal Railroad Administration; Albrecht P. Engel, Vice President, High-Speed Rail, Amtrak; Peter Gertler, Chair, High-Speed Rail Services, HNTB Corporation; and Fabio Casiroli, Professor of Transport Planning, DPA Milan Polytechnic, and Founder, Systematica. The workshop will be moderated by Petra Todorovich, Director of America 2050.

Registration for the Regional Assembly is $275 General and $250 for RPA members and returning guests. To register, please visit or contact Steven Salzgeber at (917) 546-4309 or

Contact Your Elected Officials to Protect High-Speed Rail Funding in the 2011 Federal Budget

In order to avoid a budget impasse and subsequent government shutdown, Congress has already passed two short-term continuing resolutions (CR) that temporarily fund the government and allow negotiations on the 2011 Federal Budget to continue. The most recent CR is set to expire on April 8th and the possibility of yet another short-term extension being passed is unlikely, which means that the government will shut down if negotiations are not successful by then, and both sides are reportedly still far apart.

In February, the House passed a spending bill that cut $61 billion from the federal budget for the remainder of fiscal year 2011, including deep cuts to transit and rail programs. The bill would cut $430 million from the New Starts transit program and rescind $300 million in unspent funds, eliminate the TIGER program and rescind all unspent fiscal year 2010 funds, and eliminate the High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Program and rescind all unspent fiscal year 2010 funds. The Senate opposes the House bill and has countered with a spending proposal that contains more modest cuts, which House leadership staunchly opposed. Negotiations have now resumed in earnest to meet the April 8th deadline.

In order to carry forward the momentum from the last two years of funding for high-speed rail and set a precedent that helps achieve funding levels set forth in the President's 2012 Proposed Budget ($53 billion over 6 years), Congress must hold the line on high-speed rail by at least maintaining current levels of funding and securing the funds that have already been appropriated. Only with a sustained source of funding, can we hope to realize the President's vision for a national high-speed rail network. So, as we gear up for the FY2012 Budget debate, your help will be enormously important. Please contact your elected officials and urge them to stand up for these important programs.

America 2050 has joined forces with its partners in the coalition in an effort to maintain momentum for growing high-speed rail funding in the United States, by sending letters to Congress and adding a link on our website where visitors can find their elected official's contact information and then make a call or send them an email to let them know that they want expanded rail investments to create jobs and reduce our nation's dependence on foreign oil.

Visit this link now.

NEW VIDEO: "Why Build High-Speed Rail in the Northeast?"

America 2050 has assisted in the production of a new video titled, "Why Build High-Speed Rail in the Northeast?," that makes the case for implementing high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor. The video was released on March 7th and since then has been viewed by nearly 4,000 people.

The video features Bob Yaro, President of RPA and Co-Chair of America 2050, Al Engel, Vice President of High-Speed Rail at Amtrak, U.S. Representative Rosa DeLauro, 3rd District of Connecticut, and Paul Levy, President and CEO of Center City District in Philadelphia. In the video, they discuss how high-speed rail in the Northeast Corridor is critical to providing the new capacity needed to support projected growth in the region. The Megaregion's nearly $3 trillion economy, representing 20% of the nation's total, is the direct result of our nation's historic investments in world-class transportation infrastructure. However, as our vital arteries clog up, current budgets do not project similar investments to meet future demand. The Northeast Corridor must build high-speed rail to maintain the freedom and mobility that its economic health and competitiveness is founded on.

For more information, visit the following website: (The Business Alliance for Northeast Mobility).

Watch the video on Vimeo.

2010 Census - Megaregion Growth Outpaces National Growth

On March 24th, the U.S. Census Bureau released the final, state population counts from the 2010 Census that permit the redistricting process to take place. Redistricting is the legislative process of redrawing the boundaries of the 435 geographical districts of the House of Representatives, so that each congressional district has approximately the same population. The release of this data is a major milestone in the Census process, which plays a critical role in the distribution of congressional seats and federal funding, and provides insights on the demographic trends that unfolded across the nation over last decade.

From 2000 to 2010, population growth in megaregions (10.3 %) outpaced growth the overall growth of the nation (9.7 %). The Arizona Sun Corridor megaregion led the way with a growth rate of 24.7 %, followed by the Texas Triangle (22.3 %), Piedmont Atlantic (18.6 %), and Florida (17.6 %) megaregions. The two most populous megaregions in the nation, the Great Lakes and Northeast, experienced very modest growth (3.3 and 5.6 %, respectively), well below the national average. However, in the Northeast Megaregion that encompasses the contiguous urbanized areas of Northeastern states, population growth was nearly 75 % higher than that of the Census-defined Northeast region, which encompasses the nine New England and Mid-Atlantic states of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Urban Growth in the Northeast Megaregion

The Northeast Landscape Initiatives Atlas is a collection of landscape initiatives situated in their conservation and development context, and organized in geographic information system (GIS). The Atlas is part of an ongoing effort by America 2050 and Regional Plan Association to evaluate the results of urban development models in order to help the more than 145 individual landscape conservation initiatives succeed in their efforts.

Over the next generation, the Northeast Megaregion is expected to grow by 26%, adding about 18 million residents. To assess the implications of this change for landscape conservation, land use maps showing historic and current land use, and projections of future urban growth in the Megaregion through 2040 have been added to Northeast Landscape Initiatives Atlas. The maps are useful in identifying complimentary projects and land use trends in surrounding areas.

For example, population growth and expansion of urban and suburban areas will affect the region through landscape conversion, construction of new roads, increase in impervious surfaces, and fragmentation of natural systems. But these development pressures will not affect the region uniformly. Better understanding these challenges will help initiatives prioritize their objectives and implement strategies that are responsive to on the ground conditions and that are focused at the appropriate geographic scale.

"Why High-Speed Rail is Right" by Bob Yaro, Co-Chair of America 2050

Co-Chair of America 2050, Bob Yaro, recently wrote an article entitled, "Why High-Speed Rail is Right," that was published in RPA's Spotlight and re-printed on the America 2050 website. Read the article on America 2050's website.

Florida Cancels High-Speed Rail Project - USDOT Makes $2.4 Billion Available Through Competitive Bidding Process

Florida Governor Rick Scott recently decided to cancel the Tampa-Orlando high-speed rail project, rejecting over $2.4 billion in federal funds. Afterward, Petra Todorovich, Director of America 2050 released a statement bemoaning the Governor's choice to turn down "hundreds of millions of dollars of private investment and an immediate plan to create thousands of construction jobs, boost Florida's tourism economy, and create capacity for economic growth."

Since then, the USDOT has filed a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail projects in an effort to solicit applications for the $2.4 billion in federal funds that had been committed to Florida. When the Governors of Ohio and Wisconsin canceled projects in their states in December, Secretary LaHood simply opted to redirect the funding to states with active high-speed rail projects. However, the NOFA opens the money up to competitive bidding and new projects that were unfunded in the previous two rounds of grants.

Projects will be selected for awards based on their ability to reduce energy consumption, improve the efficiency of a region's overall transportation network, and generate sustained economic activity along the corridor, and more. Applications are due no later than 8:00 PM EDT on Monday, April 4, 2011.

For more information about the NOFA visit the FRA's website.

America 2050 in the News

Below are samples of press coverage that mention America 2050 or its staff since the last America 2050 update.

National Coverage

METRO Magazine - Can the U.S. remain a competitive world power without high-speed rail? Janna Starcic - February 9, 2011

ABC News - High-Speed Rail Critics Question President Obama's $53 Billion Plan Alan Farnham - February 10, 2011

GOOD Magazine - The GOOD Guide to Volunteering: The Civilian - February 14,

CE News - New study identifies best U.S. high-speed rail corridors - February 14, 2011

Innovation News Daily - Throttle is Barely Open for High-Speed Rail in U.S. Jeremy Hsu - February 15, 2011

Streetsblog Capitol Hill - Florida Gov. Rick Scott Chooses Politics Over Constituents, Rejects HSR Funds Angie Schmitt - February 16, 2011

Transportation Nation - High Speed Rail Will Not Come to Disneyworld Andrea Bernstein - February 16, 2011

The Infrastructurist - Florida Governor Rejects High-Speed Rail Funding Eric Jaffe - February 17, 2011

The Economist - Rick Scott deep-sixes Florida high-speed rail - February 19, 2011 - Envisioning transport in the 21st century Andrew Nusca - February 21, 2011

The Infrastructurist - Systems, Not Technology, May Propel the Transportation of Tomorrow Eric Jaffe - February 22, 2011

The Economist - Super Highway (video) - March 4, 2011

CNN International - Florida high-speed rail deadline is Friday Steve Kastenbaum - March 5, 2011

New York Times - How Flaws Undid Obama's Hope for High-Speed Rail in Florida Michael Cooper - Mar 11, 2011

National Journal, Transportation Experts - Northeast Rail, Amtrak Enthusiasts Unite Fawn Johnson (Peter Gertler & Petra Todorovich) - March 21, 2011

Regional & Local Coverage

Minnesota 2020 Hindsight - Setting High Speed Rail Aspirations High Riordan Frost - February 9, 2011

Courier-Journal - Kentucky, Indiana in Obama's $8 billion request for high-speed rail study - Marcus Green - February 13, 2011

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - Another governor jumps off train Jon Schmitz - February 17, 2011

WMNF (88.5 FM) - What are the prospects for success of high-speed rail in Florida? Robert Lorei - March 3, 2011

WYPR (88.1 FM) - Maryland in Motion - Slow Progress for High-Speed Rail Bruce Wallace - March 14, 2011

America 2050's report, "High-Speed Rail in America," was mentioned in the letter from Governor Malloy and the press releases from Northeastern Senators to USDOT Secretary LaHood asking for the Florida money to be redirected to the NEC. The story was covered and the letters were posted at the following websites: Transportation Nation, The Washington Post, and The Hartford Courant, Connecticut Post, Endfield, and Manchester