At this moment, there is only one high speed rail service in the U.S. It is Amtrak's Acela Express which runs on the NE corridor from Boston to Washington D.C. Barack Obama has made it clear that America needs to invest in HSR in the near future. In April 2009, as required by ARRA, the FRA released its strategic plan describing the agency's vision for developing high-speed rail in the United States.
The benefits of HSR are numerous, just check out some of the stats...
Faster, more efficient mobility, enormous energy savings, reduced environmental damage - a train system solves many problems:
For our studio project this semester, we focused on a HSR station in an American city. My group, which consisted of one other person, chose to study Las Vegas.
Why Las Vegas?
"Las Vegas is the second most traveled tourist destination in the U.S. behind New York City... Over 30,000 people drive to Las Vegas from LA everyday. Desert Xpress will cut that in half..."
"DesertXpress allows passengers to bypass traffic, traveling at speeds of up to 150 mph non-stop to and from Las Vegas in approximately 80 minutes compared to an average highway drive time of approximately 4 hours. Driving on I-15 can take several more hours during peak times, and longer with any accidents or other delays. DesertXpress alleviates congestion on the I-15, providing a better, cleaner, safer, and faster alternative to driving, and an unparalleled transportation EXPERIENCE."
There is already a station proposal underway for Victorville, CA. Our project was concerned with a HSR terminal station in Las Vegas. We wanted to make it a destination point. We knew that 1.) it had to be in proximity to Las Vegas Boulevard and 2.) it had to be along I-15 (the main highway that runs through Las Vegas. We investigated the site possibilities for a while, but finally chose a very large site, consisting of 2 parcels located directly across from Mandalay Bay.
Little did we know the criticism we would get from this site... At mid-term juries, a large discussion took place about our site selection. The main criticism was that our site was not along Las Vegas Boulevard. However, our argument was that it was actually closer than if we were to put it further south along LVB. We are even proposing to take the existing monorail and extend it into our building...
We strongly believe that the site we chose was a very good location for a HSR. Even our professor agrees with us. The argument is clear to us. We believe the HSR should be a destination point. And without going into the concept of the project (future blog) we believe it was a very successful proposal.
Brandon E. Young