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A railroad project that makes sense

October 25, 2011
Salem News

While President Barack Obama was attempting to convince Americans they should spend billions of dollars on high-speed railroads, a much more important railroad project was proceeding in this area of the country.

Federal funds for it were approved under the administration of former President George Bush.

Obama's high-speed rail plan is of dubious economic development value, so much so that both Ohio and Florida have rejected federal funding for it.

But the Heartland Corridor project will help the economies of several states, including West Virginia and Ohio. Both states have committed millions of dollars to infrastructure improvements needed to complete the work. The private sector also is heavily involved.

In essence, the Heartland Project involves a better freight rail system between Columbus and the Norfolk, Va., seaport. It will allow companies in this region to export products more economically. The economy of West Virginia alone is expected to be boosted by at least $50 million a year.

But improving existing railroads and expanding tunnels through the West Virginia mountains is not as politically appealing as "high-speed rail," so Obama has said little about it. Besides, again, he can take no credit for it.

The difference between Obama's plan and work such as the Heartland Project is significant and should be remembered by Congress the next time Obama asks for money. It is that the president's proposal originated in Washington, while the Heartland Project was envisioned by the nation's true job creators - the private sector.



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