HSR Provides Minimal Road Congestion Relief

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ON CASE solvency HSR provides minimal highway congestion relief
Peterman, Analyst in Transportation Policy for Congressional Research Service, Frittelli, Specialist in transportation policy for CRS, and Mallet, specialist in transportation policy for CRS, 2009 (David Randall, John, William J, 12/8/9, Congressional Research Service, “High Speed Rail (HSR) in the United States“, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40973.pdf, 7/10/12, CNW)
In heavily traveled and congested corridors, proponents contend that HSR will relieve highway and air traffic congestion, and, if on a separate right-of-way, may also benefit freight rail and commuter rail movements where such services share track with existing intercity passenger rail service. 34 By alleviating congestion, the notion is that HSR potentially reduces the need to pay for capacity expansions in other modes. On the question of highway congestion relief, many studies estimate that HSR will have little positive effect because most highway traffic is local and the diversion of intercity trips from highway to rail will be small. In a study of HSR published in 1997, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) estimated that in most cases rail improvements would divert only 3%-6% of intercity automobile trips. FRA noted that corridors with short average trip lengths, those under 150 miles, showed the lowest diversion rates. 35 The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Inspector General (IG) found much the same thing in a more recent analysis of HSR in the Northeast Corridor. The IG examined two scenarios: Scenario 1 involved cutting rail trip times from Boston to New York from 3 ½ hours to 3 hours and from New York to Washington from 3 hours to 2 ½; Scenario 2 involved cutting trip times on both legs by another ½ hour over scenario 1. In both scenarios, the IG found that the improvements reduced automobile ridership along the NEC by less than 1%. 36 The IG noted “automobile travel differs from air or rail travel in that it generally involves door-to-door service, offers greater flexibility in time of departure, and does not require travelers to share space with strangers. Consequently, rail travel must be extremely competitive in other dimensions, such as speed or cost, to attract automobile travelers.” 37 Planners of a high speed rail link in Florida between Orlando and Tampa, a distance of about 84 miles, estimated that it would shift 11% of those driving between the two cities to the train, as well as 9% of those driving from Lakeland to either Orlando (54 miles) or Tampa (33 miles). However, because most of the traffic on the main highway linking the two cities, I-4, is not travelling between these cities, it was estimated that HSR would reduce traffic on the busiest sections of I-4 by less than 2%. 38 The final environmental impact statement for the project states that the reduction in the number of vehicles resulting from the HSR system “would not be sufficient to significantly improve the LOS [level of service] on I-4, as many segments of the roadway would still be over capacity.” 39 The estimated cost of the HSR line was $2.0 billion to $2.5 billion, 40 or $22 million to $27 million per mile.

Construction will damage property and air quality – current transportation better
McGirr, The Stanford Daily, 10
(Samantha, The Stanford Daily, 11/4/10, “Management professor says high-speed rail not smart investment”, http://www.stanforddaily.com/2010/11/04/management-professor-says-high-speed-rail-not-smart-investment/, 7/10/12, ML)
Enthoven further questions the environmental implications of the project, pointing out that the construction alone will damage property and release large amounts of carbon into the air. Rather than building an entire high-speed rail system, Enthoven believes California legislators should direct funds toward the expansion of current public transportation in the state’s large cities. “We ought to use that money to subsidize public transportation within