Thursday, July 22, 2010

China to Fund High-Speed Rail in the United States?

It is clear that China is willing to invest good money in high-speed rail and transit projects in its own country and abroad. It must see such transportation as an important solution to 21st century challenges.

While the US has committed several billion dollars for high-speed rail across the nation, it is still far behind China and Europe in this field. And many wonder if private and public entities in the US will even be able to fund the projects President Obama put $8 billion towards earlier this year. One solution, if that is the case, might be to borrow money from China.

“If U.S. companies aren’t able to provide adequate private sector support for construction programs, and if neither the federal government nor states themselves are able to develop infrastructure banks to advance such funding, foreign aid could be a realistic possibility,” Yonah writes.

“This could be seen as a significant let-down for Americans used to thinking that we should be able to fund our infrastructure using our own funds. But the opportunity for expanded global trade could be an excellent opportunity for improvements in the U.S.; there’s no reason to be worried about direct investment from abroad if it makes possible the construction of resources that we couldn’t otherwise build.”

I think this is excellent commentary. It would be great if we could fund high-speed rail projects in the US with US money, but if US companies and government can’t get the job done, getting money for these critical infrastructure projects elsewhere is better than not. High-speed rail is a good public investment and I think it is very important for future economic vitality in the US.

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