The Southeast Corridor will traverse the South on its way to link up to the Northeast Corridor in Washington D.C., but since the proposed line in these states (Georgia, the Carolinas and Virginia) is so underwhelming and mediocre (110 mph top speed and no electrification of the line) the politics of high speed rail in this region is much more interesting and will be subject to analysis.
Here the focus will be on two major Southern politicians and their views on the Southeast Corridor and all high speed rail projects. The two men in question are Virginia House Republican Eric Cantor and South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford. These men will be spotlighted because of the recent discrepancy between their words and actions. Republicans like Cantor and Sanford have been the hatchet men of passenger rail for nearly 60 years. If politicians like them are to end their resistance to high speed rail, the American people would have the viable option of fast, convenient and comfortable trains.
First up is Representative Cantor. On NBC’s “Meet the Press” dated March 15th, 2009, he cited high speed rail as an example of “waste and pork barrel spending”. A month later, Virginia applied for HSR funding with the blessing of every other important elected official in the state. This included Governor Tim Kaine and Senator Jim Webb. Mr. Cantor changed his tune on the project, citing it as a job creator.
Cantor is a prominent opponent to anything the current administration does and his transportation vision mirrors that of the Bush era. There is none. Despite this outlook, he (for the moment) seems to be willing to accept high speed rail will be beneficial to Virginians and has ceased his opposition to the project.
Next is Mr. Sanford as it is good custom to save the best for last. Here is a man who fought to refuse stimulus money granted to the state through the Federal Reinvestment and Recovery Act that would help to build infrastructure and put people back to work. Fought hard he did until the state legislature fought back and forced him to accept the money. One battle lost for this rising Republican star and leader who was touted as a presidential hopeful for 2012. Mark Sanford was seen as man of strong family values and charisma who Republican counted on to lead the comeback in the coming election cycles.
Turns out Governor Sanford is a hypocrite and liar who abandoned his state with no explanation for 5 days to see his Argentine lover in Buenos Aires on taxpayer money. Afterward, just to add that little extra to the whole scandal, he refused to resign despite repeated calls from the South Carolina GOP. This comes after he was one of the loudest critics for Bill Clinton to resign in the 1990s.
Such are the latest deeds of some of the most ardent opponents of high speed rail. It appears these two men have been removed their opposition to rail, but there are many more like them who want to stop high speed rail or drain much needed funding from it.
This is the 10th of a 13-part series on high speed rail in the USA. Read previous articles:
- High Speed Rail – 12 Corridors to be Stimulated
- High Speed Rail at 90 mph?! ARRA & the Northeast Corridor
- California High Speed Rail – Who will pay for $40 billion?!
- Planning High Speed Rail Line For 17 Years: The Pacific Northwest
- (Anti-)High Speed Rail: Republicans & the Gulf Coast Corridor
- Airlines & Oil Barons in Fear of High Speed Rail: The South Central Corridor
- High Speed Rail Line Gets Federal Funding: Los Angeles to Las Vegas
- Job Creator & Travelers’ Dream: High Speed Rail Chicago Hub
- After the Bushes have gone: High Speed Rail & the Florida corridor