Report: Megaregions and America's economic recovery

by Sabrina I. Pacifici on September 20, 2009

Megaregions and America’s economic recovery – A look at opportunities for megaregional planning across the U.S. [This article appears in the September 2009 issue of the Urbanist]

  • “The Obama administration’s commitment to high-speed rail, including $8 billion in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and another $5 billion in the president’s proposed budget, provides a tantalizing reward for megaregion cooperation. Early this summer, the Federal Railroad Administration made clear that the selection process for the competitive high-speed rail grants would favor applications from regions with unified support for a proposed rail plan. On July 10, more than 40 states submitted 270 pre-applications for projects worth more than $100 billion. These applications will be evaluated for three separate grant programs: planning, projects and corridor programs, with final decisions made in early December. If regional cooperation is weighted heavily in the selection process, we can expect that megaregions with organized HSR plans and proposals — such as California’s proposed network, the Midwest High Speed Rail initiative and the Northeast Corridor — will hold an advantage, particularly for grants to corridor programs, which is the largest funding category.”
  • American 2050 – Where High-Speed Rail Works Best: “Defining the corridors in America that are most appropriate for high-speed rail service is critical to the long-term success of America’s high-speed rail program. This paper offers one mechanism for assessing which potential high-speed rail corridors will have the greatest ridership demand based on population size, economic activity, transit connections, existing travel markets and urban spatial form and density. The authors evaluate 27,000 city pairs in the nation to create an index of city pairs with the greatest demand for high-speed rail service. The paper provides a list of the top 50 city pairs, which are primarily concentrated in the Northeast, California, and the Midwest, and provides recommendations for phasing corridor development in the nation’s megaregions.
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