Thank You, Obama: Deadly Train Derailment Was On Tracks Built With Stimulus Money | Stock News & Stock Market Analysis

Infrastructure: The Amtrak train derailment near Tacoma, Wash., was on a stretch of just-completed high-speed rail that was the direct result of President Obama’s vision for high-speed rail and his so-called stimulus plan.

X In accounts of Monday’s crash, which killed three and injured many others, news reports noted that the derailment involved a “high-speed Amtrak train” on its first run on a new stretch of track that bypassed an existing rail line. The train was reportedly going 80 mph when it hit a curve engineered for speeds of only 30 mph.

If neither speed sounds particularly “high speed,” join the club. Yet this stretch of track was paid for by Obama’s 2009 $787 billion stimulus plan, of which Obama directed $8 billion to nearly a dozen rail projects around the country that were supposed to transform how Americans get around.

“My high-speed rail proposal will lead to innovations that change the way we travel in America,” Obama boldly proclaimed at the time.

That was, of course, a fantasy and eighteen years later the money Obama dumped on his railroads-of-the-future project has produced little by way of improvements. Three states returned the funds, other projects were abandoned or, like the California high-speed rail, are still getting underway.

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Washington state, however, eagerly took the stimulus money and promised to use it to speed up service between Portland and Seattle on Amtrak’s Cascade line.

One of the big projects — which consumed $187 million — went to build a 14.5 mile high-speed bypass between the cities of DuPont and Tacoma.

However, despite the fact that the stimulus was advertised as financing “shovel ready” projects, work on the bypass didn’t begin until 2013 — 4 years after the recession had ended.

What’s more, the bypass faced criticism from local officials who had warned for years that the route and speeds created huge safety risks. For one thing, the tracks run across several busy roads at grade, which increases risks of cars colliding with trains traveling close to 80 mph. And there were still sharp turns that required the high-speed trains to slow way down.

The town of Lakewood, which is along the bypass route, sued the state in 2013 in a failed attempt to stop the project. And that year a local paper editorialized that the risks posed by the new rail line weren’t worth the 10 minutes it would shave off commuting times.

Just days before the crash, the mayor of Lakewood warned the state’s transportation department about the safety hazard this new line posed, saying “this project was never needed and endangers our citizens.”

The Obama stimulus money also bought eight new Amtrak locomotives that, Washington’s transportation department said, came equipped with “positive train control” equipment and software, which is designed to automatically prevent trains from speeding or ignoring signals.

Yet the doomed train was going 50 mph faster than the posted speed when it derailed.

So, what we have here is wasteful “stimulus” money that didn’t get spent until years after the recession ended, that built a “high-speed” line with a top speed of 80 mph, that locals said posed serious safety risks, and went to buy “state-of-the-art” engines that were supposed to prevent the trains from speeding … but didn’t.

Now, at least three people are dead and hundreds injured. All for a bypass that, at best, will shave travel time by a few minutes.

This is not, as President Trump claims, an example of why we need to spend more taxpayer money on infrastructure. If anything, it shows the opposite.


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Originally posted 2017-12-19 22:56:17.


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