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Revitalizing America’s Backbone: In Support of a High-Speed Railway

The strength of a nation is, in many ways, reflected in the resilience of its infrastructure. A system of efficient infrastructure is the backbone of the United States. The existence of an intricate network of interstate and intrastate roads, highways, bridges, ports, airports and electric grids plays a pivotal role in facilitating the movement of “goods, people, information and energy” throughout the country (Secrist 2013).


It is through this movement that American society can function and our economy can grow and prosper. Unfortunately, the United States faces a looming threat to this essential flow of people, goods and more.


The nation’s infrastructure is facing widespread decay and aging. With this challenge comes a gleaming opportunity: introducing a solution that ushers in a new era of technology and improvement for the United States. What we need is a high-speed railway network.


The infrastructure problems Americans face, many of which a high-speed railway would avoid, are nothing short of extensive. In the last decade, the American Society of Civil Engineers has given the US a grade of “C-” for infrastructure, largely because almost half of our roads and highways are decaying (McBride 2023). An estimated 43,000 people are killed annually due to car accidents in the US, not including another million who are seriously injured (Global Railway Review 2018). One-third of these casualties can be “directly attributed to substandard road conditions” (Secrist 2023).


In contrast, a high-speed railway is the safest form of travel in the world, reporting little to no casualties globally. A solution to avoiding thousands of tragic accidents and fatalities must be considered seriously.


Further, intense congestion on highways, resulting in wasted time and lost convenience, costs Americans about “$124 billion per year in wasted time and fuel” (Global Railway Review 2018). High-speed railways’ consistent schedules and design prevent congestion and delays while delivering riders at an uninterrupted speed of 200 miles per hour.


Imagine this: commuting from Los Angeles to San Francisco in a safe and cost-efficient manner in less than three hours. Isn’t that the America you want to live in?

This ambitious and visionary project has not been embraced in the United States, despite the many economic benefits it could bring. Many critics argue that a high-speed railway project would be far too costly to achieve in the face of an already struggling economy.


This hesitancy is no surprise, being that US political leaders can hardly decide whether to fund current infrastructure costs directly or by pushing private sector spending. However, because for every “$1.25 billion invested in transportation infrastructure [...] 35,000 jobs are created and supported,” a high-speed railway project could generate hundreds of thousands of jobs (Secrist 2013). This is a benefit to the nation that a member of any political party could enjoy.


Since it is also expected that the demand for freight rail will increase by a whopping 84% by 2035, it is only fair to imagine the extensive benefits a high-speed railway system could bring (Secrist 2013). Capable of transporting so many different people and goods, a system like this could revolutionize the US economy and society. 

Ongoing debates over how to address the costs of currently decaying infrastructure have resulted in many citizens completely ignoring the opportunity to innovate and revolutionize transportation in the United States. As we focus on the upsetting issues of the present day, it sometimes feels like there is no room to hope for the future.


The infrastructure of the United States, the backbone of the nation, is subpar at best and in desperate need of imaginative thinkers to help revitalize it. As someone who drives around every day in Los Angeles, I am exhausted by the standard commute. In order to help me through it, I will continue to imagine what it would be like to leave my keys behind and hop on a high-speed train!


Sources:

McBride, J. (n.d.). The State of U.S. Infrastructure. Retrieved September 29, 2023,

Secrist, B. (n.d.). America’s infrastructure: Challenges and opportunities  Retrieved September 29, 2023, 

Top 10 reasons to bring high-speed rail to America. (n.d.). Global Railway Review. Retrieved September 29, 2023

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