Seriously, there is some very good news on the way, and it probably won't occur in tomorrow's state of the union address. There is a lot of stuff to talk about - Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, Google, China, Pakistan, spending freezes, growing unemployment, cybersecurity, Nepalese elections and a lame-duck-esque compromise on health insurance reform - but I want to focus on the positive.
President Obama is giving me a birthday present. On Thursday, which happens to be the 29th anniversary of my birth, Obama and Joe Biden are expected in Tampa, Florida to announce the creation of the United States' first true high-speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando. This announcement has the potential to kick off the creation of tens-of-thousands of jobs and spur economic development. This is the culmination of a plan to initiate spending on new rapid train technology over ten federally-designated corridors that Obama and Biden announced last April.
Though only $8 billion in funding was initially announced, the US Department of Transportation received over $50 billion in rail construction requests. Florida's rail line will cost approximately $2.5 billion, leaving over $5 billion for the government to spend at its discretion. The safest bets are on the government also funding construction on high-speed rail projects in Illinois and California.
If the rail geek in me gets to make another post this week, I'll talk about why the Tampa-Orlando proposal won the first allotment of money, and what lines should be built next.