Slow progress for high-speed rail
High costs and political opposition have led to limited success for efforts to bring widespread European- and Asian-style high-speed rail to the United States.
President Barack Obama used the 2009 economic stimulus package to dole out $8 billion for high-speed rail projects, and in 2011 proposed spending $53 billion over six years to promote construction of high-speed lines around the nation.
More than two years later, there's been little progress.
While the federal government offered money to spearhead high-speed rail efforts in states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and California, Republican governors in Wisconsin and Florida killed the projects.
In California, voters in 2008 approved a 520-mile high-speed rail project that would have carried riders between San Diego and San Francisco at nearly 200 mph. Since then, the cost estimate has gone up, speeds have come down and the route has been limited to a roughly 200-mile stretch between Fresno and Burbank.
Now, the attention appears to be turning to state and local initiatives.
A private company has proposed a line in Texas, while another private proposal would bring high-speed rail linking Miami and Orlando, Florida.
But for high-speed rail to make significant inroads into the United States, the nation would first have to make significant improvements to basic infrastructure, such as tracks and bridges to allow freight and passenger traffic to coexist, said Brookings' Puentes.
"We've got a long way to go," he said.